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SPECIES Melomys burtoni

Author:Ramsay, 1887.
Citation:Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., ser. 2, 2: 531.
Common Name:Grassland Melomys
Type Locality:Australia, Western Australia, near Derby; Mahoney and Richardson (1988:161) provided details.
Distribution:Australia; along the coast "from just south of the New South Wales-Queensland border, north to the tip of Cape York, and in coastal areas of the Northern Territory and north-eastern Western Australia" (Watts and Aslin, 1981:84; Kerle, 1995c:633); also found on many offshore islands. SC New Guinea (recorded only from the Trans-Fly region).
Status:IUCN – Lower Risk (lc).
Comments:Results of chromosomal and electrophoretic studies reported by Baverstock et al. (1977c, 1980, 1981, 1983b). Anatomy of male reproductive tract and spermatozoal morphology presented by Breed and Sarafis (1978), Morrissey and Breed (1982), and Breed (1984, 1986). Tate (1951), Mahoney and Richardson (1988), and Musser and Carleton treated populations from Australian and New Guinea region as a single species, and Musser and Carleton (1993) noted that the complex needs revision using data from morphological, chromosomal, and molecular sets to assess significance of the variation apparent both among samples from New Guinea and between those from New Guinea and Australia. In the absence of such a revisionary study, Flannery (1995a, b) treated the New Guinea samples as a separate species, M. lutillus. Recently, Menzies (1996) has provided a revision of the New Guinea segment, as M. lutillus, recognizing M. l. lutillus as occurring in E Papua, M. l. muscalis as confined to the Trans-Fly savannas, and samples from the Snow Mtns of Prov. of Papua (= Irian Jaya) as a separate species, M. frigicola. Menzies (1996:380) realized the close relationship between Australian and New Guinea populations, writing "There is a possibility that New Guinean lutillus, especially the Trans-Fly population, muscalis, could be conspecific with the tropical Australian burtoni." Here we incorporate the Trans-Fly segment (muscalis) into Australian M. burtoni, and recognize M. lutillus and M. frigicola as occurring elsewhere on New Guinea (see those accounts). This seems a reasonable hypothesis to test in the context of a needed revision incorporating samples from both Australia and New Guinea. If muscalis truly represents the Austral M. burtoni, this would be another example of an Australian element also occurring only in the Trans-Fly region of S New Guinea (Norris and Musser, 2001). Australian segment reviewed by Watts and Aslin (1981) and Kerle (1995c).



    albiventer Kellogg, 1945
    australius Thomas, 1924
    callopes Finlayson, 1943
    froggatti Troughton, 1937
    insulae Troughton and Le Souef, 1929
    littoralis (Lönnberg, 1916)
    melicus (Thomas, 1913)
    mixtus Troughton, 1935
    murinus (Thomas, 1913)
    muscalis (Thomas, 1913)

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