Home Science and Nature Two New Species of Native Mice Discovered in Australia

Two New Species of Native Mice Discovered in Australia

by News7

Mice of the genus Pseudomys are among the few terrestrial placental mammals that colonized Australia without human intervention.

The Pilbara delicate mouse (Pseudomys pilbarensis). Image credit: Ian Bool.

The little native mouse (Pseudomys delicatulus), also known as the delicate mouse, was previously thought to be a single species spanning a massive stretch of the country from the Pilbara in Western Australia, across parts of the Northern Territory and through Queensland down to the New South Wales border.

“We now know there are actually three distinct species,” said Dr. Emily Roycroft, a researcher at the Australian National University.

“Thanks to new genetic technology, we’ve confirmed the delicate mouse is three species, not one.”

“Identifying undescribed species and giving them official names goes a long way to making sure they’re properly looked after.”

“While it might be difficult for the untrained eye to tell the species apart, the discovery is significant for the future of the tiny mouse.”

“The two new species haven’t had any conservation or research attention, because we didn’t know they were there.”

“We don’t know, for example, if population declines have gone undetected as a result of all three species being assessed as a single unit.”

“The delicate mouse has not been a conservation priority — but that’s because it was thought to have a distribution three times larger than it actually does. This will allow us to reassess.”

“The delicate mouse differs from the mice you might come across in your home or backyard in a few important ways.”

“House mice, black rats and brown rats are invasive species brought to Australia since European colonization.”

“They’re very different to native rodents, both evolutionary and ecologically. They compete with our native species for resources.”

“Delicate mice are part of a group of native rodents that have been evolving in Australia for the last 5 million years. They’re a crucial part of Australia’s natural environment and ecosystems.”

“Delicate mice are our smallest Australian rodent — they can weigh as little as 6 grams, so they’re really tiny.”

The researchers also found delicate mice are excellent adaptors to their environment, whether that be arid desert or forest.

“The three species will now go by common names that point to their location: the western delicate mouse or the Pilbara delicate mouse, the eastern delicate mouse and the northern delicate mouse,” they said.

The team’s paper will be published in the journal Molecular Ecology.


Emily Roycroft et al. 2024. Rapid speciation in Australian delicate mice. Molecular Ecology, in press

Source : Breaking Science News

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