Genetic evidence supports three previously described species of greater glider, Petauroides volans, P. minor, and P. armillatus

Denise C. McGregor, Amanda Padovan, Arthur Georges, Andrew Krockenberger, Hwan Jin Yoon, Kara N. Youngentob

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Abstract

The identification and classification of species are essential for effective conservation management. This year, Australia experienced a bushfire season of unprecedented severity, resulting in widespread habitat loss and mortality. As a result, there has been an increased focus on understanding genetic diversity and structure across the range of individual species to protect resilience in the face of climate change. The greater glider (Petauroides volans) is a large, gliding eucalypt folivore. This nocturnal arboreal marsupial has a wide distribution across eastern Australia and is considered the sole extant member of the genus Petauroides. Differences in morphology have led to suggestions that the one accepted species is actually three. This would have substantial impacts on conservation management, particularly given a recent history of declining populations, coupled with extensive wildfires. Until now, genetic evidence to support multiple species has been lacking. For the first time, we used DArT sequencing on greater glider tissue samples from multiple regions and found evidence of three operational taxonomic units (OTUs) representing northern, central and southern groups. The three OTUs were also supported by our morphological data. These findings have important implications for greater glider management and highlight the role of genetics in helping to assess conservation status.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19284
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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