Defining taxonomic units is an important component of understanding how biodiversity has formed, and in guiding efforts to sustain it. Understanding patterns of biodiversity across the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia is limited, with molecular technology revealing deep phylogenetic structure and complex evolutionary histories. The brachyotis group of rock-wallabies (Petrogale spp.), which currently consists of three species (Petrogale brachyotis, P. burbidgei and P. concinna) distributed across north-western Australia, provides an example where current taxonomy does not reflect the true diversity or phylogenetic relationships within the group. We have used an integrative approach, combining morphological data, together with DNA sequences (∼1000bp mitochondrial DNA; ∼3000bp nuclear DNA) to resolve relationships within P. brachyotis. Phylogenetic and morphological analyses indicated that P. brachyotis (sensu lato) represents at least two separate species: P. brachyotis (sensu stricto) from the Kimberley and western Northern Territory, and P. wilkinsi from the northern and eastern Northern Territory. Petrogale brachyotis (sensu stricto) can be separated on genetic and morphological evidence into two subspecies: P. b. brachyotis and P. b. victoriae (subsp. nov.). Distinct genetic lineages have also been identified within both P. brachyotis and P. wilkinsi, as well as within P. burbidgei and P. concinna.
- mitochondrial DNA
- northern Australia