[MARMAM] New publication of a New dolphin species, Tursiops australis, endemic to southern Australian coastal waters

Kate Charlton-Robb kate.charlton at monash.edu
Wed Sep 14 23:10:26 PDT 2011

Dear colleagues,

We are very pleased to announcethe publication of the following paper in 

"A New Dolphin Species, the Burrunan Dolphin /Tursiops australis/ sp. 
nov., Endemic to Southern Australian Coastal Waters"

Kate Charlton-Robb*, Lisa-ann Gershwin, Ross Thompson, Jeremy Austin, 
Kylie Owen & Stephen McKechnie

The paper can be downloaded directly from the PLoS ONE 
(http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024047) otherwise you can 
email me at katecr at bigpond.com or kate.charlton at monash.edu

All the best,

Kate Charlton-Robb


Small coastal dolphins endemic to south-eastern Australia have variously 
been assigned to described species /Tursiops truncatus/, /T. aduncus 
/or/T. maugeanus/; however the specific affinities of these animals is 
controversial and have recently been questioned. Historically 'the 
southern Australian /Tursiops/' was identified as unique and was 
formally named /Tursiops maugeanus/ but was later synonymised with /T. 
truncatus/.**Morphologically, these coastal dolphins share some 
characters with both//aforementioned recognised /Tursiops /species/,/ 
but they also possess unique characters not found in either.Recent mtDNA 
and microsatellite genetic evidence indicates deep evolutionary 
divergence between this dolphin and the two currently recognised 
/Tursiops /species. However, in accordance with the recommendations of 
the Workshop on Cetacean Systematics, and the Unified Species Concept 
the use of molecular evidence alone is inadequate for describing new 
species. Here we describe the macro-morphological, colouration and 
cranial characters of these animals, assess the available and new 
genetic data, and conclude that multiple lines of evidence clearly 
indicate a new species of dolphin. We demonstrate that the syntype 
material of /T. maugeanus/ comprises two different species, one of which 
is the historical 'southern form of /Tursiops/' most similar to /T. 
truncatus/, and the other is representative of the new species and 
requires formal classification. These dolphins are here described 
as/Tursiops australis/ sp. nov., with the common name of 'Burrunan 
Dolphin' following Australian aboriginal narrative. The recognition of 
/T. australis/ sp. nov. is particularly significant given the endemism 
of this new species to a small geographic region of southern and 
south-eastern Australia, where only two small resident populations 
incloseproximity to a major urban and agricultural centre are known, 
giving them a high conservation value and making them susceptible to 
numerous anthropogenic threats.
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