Original Paper

Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 125-138

First online:

Systematics and Evolution of the Dasyurid Marsupial Genus Sminthopsis: II. The Murina Species Group

  • Mark J. BlacketAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, La Trobe UniversityCESAR, University of Melbourne Email author 
  • , Steven J. B. CooperAffiliated withEvolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum
  • , Carey KrajewskiAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, La Trobe UniversityDepartment of Zoology and Centre for Systematic Biology, Southern Illinois University
  • , Michael WestermanAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, La Trobe University

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Genetic variation within the Murina species group, which includes S. murina, S. gilberti, S. leucopus, S. dolichura and S. archeri, was examined through analyses of complete 12S rRNA, partial control region mitochondrial DNA sequences and partial omega-globin nuclear DNA sequences. Sminthopsis butleri was found to be an additional member of the Murina group, and appears to be most closely related to S. leucopus rather than the morphologically similar S. archeri. This latter species appears to be the most divergent member of the group, and there is a possible sister relationship between S. murina and S. gilberti, as suggested by previous allozyme evidence. It appears that the systematic affinities of the taxonomically problematic northeastern Queensland populations of both S. murina and S. leucopus and a disjunct population of S. gilberti (from the Western Australia/South Australia border) are indeed with those respective species; although each appears to belong to a distinct morphological and genetic lineage. A specimen of S. leucopus from Queensland was found to be as divergent from each of the southeastern Australian S. leucopus subspecies as they are from each other, suggesting that this northern population of S. leucopus may also warrant recognition as a distinct taxon. Specimens of S. murina murina were found to be genetically divergent from each other, and this subspecies appears to be paraphyletic, as suggested by previous morphological evidence.


Sminthopsis Phylogenetics Genetic variation Dasyuridae Marsupialia