Natural Environments Program

South Brisbane, Australia

Natural Environments Program

South Brisbane, Australia
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Adlard R.D.,Natural Environments Program | Miller T.L.,James Cook University | Smit N.J.,North West University South Africa
Trends in Parasitology | Year: 2015

Aquatic wildlife is increasingly subjected to emerging diseases often due to perturbations of the existing dynamic balance between hosts and their parasites. Accelerating changes in environmental factors, together with anthropogenic translocation of hosts and parasites, act synergistically to produce hard-to-predict disease outcomes in freshwater and marine systems. These outcomes are further complicated by the intimate links between diseases in wildlife and diseases in humans and domestic animals. Here, we explore the interactions of parasites in aquatic wildlife in terms of their biodiversity, their response to environmental change, their emerging diseases, and the contribution of humans and domestic animals to parasitic disease outcomes. This work highlights the clear need for interdisciplinary approaches to ameliorate disease impacts in aquatic wildlife systems. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Dietz L.,Ruhr University Bochum | Krapp F.,Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum | Hendrickx M.E.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Arango C.P.,Natural Environments Program | And 3 more authors.
Organisms Diversity and Evolution | Year: 2013

Within the Pycnogonida, genetic studies have revealed that Colossendeis megalonyx Hoek (Challenger Report, Zoology, 3(X), 1-167, 1881), consists of a complex of several cryptic or overlooked species. Colossendeis megalonyx is a typical Southern Hemisphere species complex distributed primarily on the continental shelves in the Antarctic and Subantarctic. However, a different Colossendeis species with a completely different geographic distribution range, Colossendeis tenera Hilton (Journal of Entomology and Zoology, Pomona College, Claremont, 35(1), 2-4, 1943), was considered a subspecies of Colossendeis megalonyx by Turpaeva (Trudy Instituta Okeanology "P. P. Shirshova", Akademy Nauk SSSR, 103, 230-246, 1975). Colossendeis tenera occurs predominantly along the Pacific Coast of North America from the Bering Sea to central California. Prominent differences between these two currently distinct species are found in body proportions and other characters that were interpreted by Turpaeva as a possible case of pedomorphosis induced by deep-sea conditions. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that Colossendeis tenera belongs to the Colossendeis megalonyx complex by analyzing available and novel sequence data (CO1 and H3) of both Colossendeis megalonyx and Colossendeis tenera as well as a similar, apparently closely related species, Colossendeis angusta Sars (Archiv for Mathematik og Naturvidenskab, 2, 237-271, 1877). We compared morphometric data and SEM of the ovigera of these species. Our results clearly indicate that Colossendeis tenera and Colossendeis angusta are not a part of the Colossendeis megalonyx complex. A sister-group relationship of Colossendeis tenera and Colossendeis angusta is strongly supported, but Colossendeis tenera is not clearly resolved as monophyletic with respect to Colossendeis angusta. This work highlights the need for further examination of the variation found in the tenera-angusta clade. It also gives a first hint of the phylogenetic affinities of species within Colossendeis. © 2013 Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik.

Burwell C.J.,Natural Environments Program | Burwell C.J.,Griffith University | Nakamura A.,Natural Environments Program | Nakamura A.,Griffith University | Nakamura A.,CAS Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Austral Ecology | Year: 2016

Increasing temperatures are predicted to have profound effects on montane ecosystems. In tropical forests, biotic attrition may reduce lowland diversity if losses of species due to upslope range shifts are not matched by influxes of warmer-adapted species, either because there are none or their dispersal is impeded. Australian rainforests consist of a north-south chain of patches, broken by dry corridors that are barriers to the dispersal of rainforest species. These rainforests have repeatedly contracted and expanded during Quaternary glacial cycles. Many lowland rainforests are expansions since the Last Glacial Maximum and may, therefore, show a signal of historical biotic attrition. We surveyed ants from replicated sites along three rainforest elevational transects in eastern Australia spanning 200 to 1200m a.s.l. and nearly 14° of latitude. We examined elevational patterns of ant diversity and if there was possible evidence of lowland biotic attrition. Each transect was in a different biogeographic region; the Australian Wet Tropics (16.3°S), the central Queensland coast (21.1°S) and subtropical south-eastern Queensland (28.1°S). We calculated ant species density (mean species per site) and species richness (estimated number of species by incorporating site-to-site species turnover) within elevational bands. Ant species density showed no signal of lowland attrition and was high at low and mid-elevations and declined only at high elevations at all transects. Similarly, estimated species richness showed no evidence of lowland attrition in the Wet Tropics and subtropical south-east Queensland species richness peaked at low elevations and declined monotonically with increasing elevation. Persistence of lowland rainforest refugia in the Wet Tropics during the Last Glacial Maximum and latitudinal range shifts of ants in subtropical rainforests during the Holocene climatic optimum may have counteracted lowland biotic attrition. In central Queensland, however, estimated richness was similar in the lowlands and mid-elevations, and few ant species were indicative of lower elevations. This may reflect historical biotic attrition due perhaps to a lack of lowland glacial refugia and the isolation of this region by a dry forest barrier to the north. © 2016 Ecological Society of Australia.

Hoskin C.J.,James Cook University | Couper P.J.,Natural Environments Program
Zootaxa | Year: 2014

Tropical rainforest is largely restricted in Australia to the fairly continuous Wet Tropics region and disconnected patches to the north on Cape York. The Wet Tropics is relatively well explored and studied, whereas the rainforests of Cape York have received less attention due to their remoteness. Here we describe two new species of Glaphyromorphus skinks from rainforest areas on Cape York. The two new species are most similar to each other and to G. fuscicaudis and G. nigricaudis, but both are readily diagnosed on numerous traits. Glaphyromorphus othelarrni sp. nov. is diagnosed from all similar species by its supralabial count (typically 8 vs 7), high number of subdigital lamellae beneath the 4th finger (14 -15 vs < 14), and its relatively longer limbs. Glaphyromorphus nyanchupinta sp. nov. is diagnosed from all similar species by its small body size (max SVL = 54 mm vs > 85 mm) and slender body shape, low number of subdigital lamellae beneath the 4thtoe (17-20 vs generally 20 or more), and head and body pattern. Both species also differ from each other and similar congeners in other aspects of body shape, scalation and colour pattern. Glaphyromorphus othelarrni sp. nov. is restricted to boulder-strewn rainforest of the Melville Range, whilst Glaphyromorphus nyanchupinta sp. nov. is known only from upland rainforest in the Mcllwraith Range. We discuss patterns of rainforest vertebrate endemism on Cape York, and the importance of lithorefugia in generating these. © 2014 Magnolia Press.

A survey of the myxosporean fauna of Australian marine fishes revealed the presence of three previously unreported species of Unicapsula (Multivalvulida: Trilosporidae) from sites off Southeast Queensland, off Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and from Jurien Bay in Western Australia. Morphometric data (spore, polar capsule and caudal appendage dimensions) combined with Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analyses of small subunit (SSU) and large subunit (LSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) were used for species identification and to explore relationships among these taxa. The four species of Unicapsula for which DNA data are now available for comparative purposes (Unicapsula andersenae n. sp., Unicapsula pflugfelderi, Unicapsula seriolae and Unicapsula pyramidata) formed a well-supported monophyletic sister clade to the other major multivalvulidan group, the Kudoidae. The combined morphometric and genetic diagnostic approach identified an undescribed taxon, U. andersenae n. sp., from the muscle of Argyrosomus japonicus, Acanthopagrus australis and Eleutheronema tetradactylum off the Southeast Queensland coast and in Lutjanus russellii and Sillago ciliata off Lizard Island. Intra-specific variation within U. andersenae n. sp. varied from 2-4 (0.2-0.4 %) nucleotides over the SSU region to 2-20 (0.3-3.2 %) over the LSU region. Inter-specific variation between U. andersenae n. sp. and the other three species for which genetic sequence data are now available ranged from 15-66 (3-6.5 %) nucleotides over the SSU region to 103-120 (17.6-21.2 %) nucleotides over the LSU region. The host distribution observed here for U. andersenae n. sp. (five fish species from five different fish families) represents the broadest specificity known for a single species of Unicapsula. U. pyramidata Naidjenova & Zaika 1970, whose spore morphology and presence of caudal appendages immediately distinguish it from other species, was recovered from the nemipterid, Scolopsis monogramma, off Lizard Island. U. seriolae Lester 1982 is reported here from Yellowtail Kingfish, Seriola lalandi, from sites off Queensland and from Jurien Bay, Western Australia. Comparative genetic analyses also revealed that an unidentified species of Unicapsula from Epinephelus septemfasciatus off Japan whose rDNA sequence data are available on GenBank is consistent with U. seriolae. This suggests that U. seriolae may also exhibit low host specificity and may be distributed widely throughout the Indo-West Pacific region. In comparison to other myxozoan genera, it is clear that the species richness of Unicapsula spp. falls well below that displayed by either Ceratomyxa spp. or Kudoa spp. The discovery of a further new species of Unicapsula in Australia now brings the total worldwide number of formally described Unicapsula species to a modest 11. Nonetheless, this taxon remains of significant interest to commercial and recreational fisheries through the potential production of macroscopic pseudocysts in fish muscle and post-mortem muscle liquefaction, both of which can render fish fillets unpalatable and unmarketable. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Cribb T.H.,University of Queensland | Bott N.J.,RMIT University | Bray R.A.,Natural History Museum in London | McNamara M.K.A.,Natural Environments Program | And 3 more authors.
International Journal for Parasitology | Year: 2014

The Great Barrier Reef holds the richest array of marine life found anywhere in Australia, including a diverse and fascinating parasite fauna. Members of one group, the trematodes, occur as sexually mature adult worms in almost all Great Barrier Reef bony fish species. Although the first reports of these parasites were made 100. years ago, the fauna has been studied systematically for only the last 25. years. When the fauna was last reviewed in 1994 there were 94 species known from the Great Barrier Reef and it was predicted that there might be 2,270 in total. There are now 326 species reported for the region, suggesting that we are in a much improved position to make an accurate prediction of true trematode richness. Here we review the current state of knowledge of the fauna and the ways in which our understanding of this fascinating group is changing. Our best estimate of the true richness is now a range, 1,100-1,800 species. However there remains considerable scope for even these figures to be incorrect given that fewer than one-third of the fish species of the region have been examined for trematodes. Our goal is a comprehensive characterisation of this fauna, and we outline what work needs to be done to achieve this and discuss whether this goal is practically achievable or philosophically justifiable. © 2014 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc..

Hoskin C.J.,James Cook University | Couper P.J.,Natural Environments Program
Zootaxa | Year: 2015

The genus Liburnascincus is composed of saxicoline skinks restricted to northeast Australia. This small radiation consists of one widespread species, L. mundivensis, found in a variety of rocky habitats in eastern Queensland, and two localized species, L. coensis and L. scirtetis, restricted to granite boulder habitats on Cape York Peninsula, in north Queensland. Here we describe a fourth species, L. artemis sp. nov., from the Bamboo Range, a low rocky range on Cape York. As for other Liburnascincus, the new species is a saxicoline skink that is active on boulder surfaces primarily early and late in the day. Liburnascincus artemis sp. nov. is most similar to L. mundivensis but can be diagnosed based on longer limbs, higher toe and finger lamellae counts, lower midbody scale count, and other aspects of morphology, scalation and colour pattern. Liburnascincus artemis sp. nov. is currently known from a very small area but further surveys will likely extend the range. It is geographically separated from L. mundivensis to the south by unsuitable habitat in the Laura region, but it may abut the range of L. coensis to the north. Despite a small distribution, L. artemis sp. nov. occurs at high density at the known sites and appears to be currently secure. In this paper we also discuss the distributions and biogeography of Liburnascincus more broadly. Copyright © 2015 Magnolia Press.

Arango C.P.,Natural Environments Program | Linse K.,British Antarctic Survey
Zootaxa | Year: 2015

Three new species of Sericosura (Pycnogonida: Ammotheidae) are described from recently discovered hydrothermal vents in the East Scotia Ridge, Southern Ocean: Sericosura bamberi sp. nov., S. dimorpha sp. nov. and S. curva sp. nov. The eleven species known to date in the genus Sericosura are all inhabitants of chemosynthetic environments in different oceans around the world. Morphology and preliminary DNA data from the COI locus suggest the East Scotia Ridge pycnogonids have relatively close evolutionary affinities with species known from the East Pacific Rise and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This finding highlights the importance of Sericosura as a characteristic taxon of hydrothermal vents and the great potential of this genus for global scale ecological and evolutionary studies of hydrothermal vents fauna. The use of pycnogonid DNA data combined with recent models explaining biogeographic provinces along the mid-ocean ridge system should prove extremely useful to understanding the patterns of diversification of endemic fauna from chemosynthetic environments and from the deep-sea in general. Copyright © 2015 Magnolia Press.

Wilmer J.W.,Natural Environments Program | Couper P.,Natural Environments Program
Australian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2015

The genus Cyrtodactylus is the most diverse and widely distributed group of geckos in the world. Throughout their extensive range, species exploit a diverse range of habitats and are able to partition niches locally. Recent work has shown that Cyrtodactylus geckos in Queensland, Australia, have radiated in situ after colonisation by an arboreal Papuan ancestor and have undergone a habitat switch to rock dwelling during their evolutionary history. Using mitochondrial data we conducted a phylogeographic and molecular dating analysis to investigate the historical biogeography of Cyrtodactylus species in north Queensland. Our analyses show that after the arrival of a Papuan rainforest-dwelling ancestor, Cyrtodactylus diverged into two major lineages: one more restricted in northern Cape York and the other more widespread. Discordance in the timing of the speciation events and phylogeographic distribution within the two lineages likely reflect regional differences in the continuity of mesic rock habitats and climatic variability over the last 15million years. Reconstructing the history of habitat use on a pre-existing global phylogeny reveals that switches between major habitat ecologies, rock and forest, have occurred multiple times in this genus. The ability to transition between different habitat types may have contributed to the global diversification of these geckos. © 2016 CSIRO.

Dudaniec R.Y.,University of Queensland | Rhodes J.R.,University of Queensland | Worthington Wilmer J.,Natural Environments Program | Lyons M.,University of Queensland | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2013

Landscape genetics offers a powerful approach to understanding species' dispersal patterns. However, a central obstacle is to account for ecological processes operating at multiple spatial scales, while keeping research outcomes applicable to conservation management. We address this challenge by applying a novel multilevel regression approach to model landscape drivers of genetic structure at both the resolution of individuals and at a spatial resolution relevant to management (i.e. local government management areas: LGAs) for the koala (Phascolartos cinereus) in Australia. Our approach allows for the simultaneous incorporation of drivers of landscape-genetic relationships operating at multiple spatial resolutions. Using microsatellite data for 1106 koalas, we show that, at the individual resolution, foliage projective cover (FPC) facilitates high gene flow (i.e. low resistance) until it falls below approximately 30%. Out of six additional land-cover variables, only highways and freeways further explained genetic distance after accounting for the effect of FPC. At the LGA resolution, there was significant variation in isolation-by-resistance (IBR) relationships in terms of their slopes and intercepts. This was predominantly explained by the average resistance distance among LGAs, with a weaker effect of historical forest cover. Rates of recent landscape change did not further explain variation in IBR relationships among LGAs. By using a novel multilevel model, we disentangle the effect of landscape resistance on gene flow at the fine resolution (i.e. among individuals) from effects occurring at coarser resolutions (i.e. among LGAs). This has important implications for our ability to identify appropriate scale-dependent management actions. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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