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Describing ectoparasite biodiversity in threatened Western Australian mammals: new methods and challenges

Burmej, H., Smith, A., Lymbery, A., Wayne, A., Morris, K., Abdad, Y., Fenwick, S. and Thompson, R.C.A. (2008) Describing ectoparasite biodiversity in threatened Western Australian mammals: new methods and challenges. In: 21st Australasian Wildlife Management Society Conference, 24 - 27 November, Fremantle, Western Australia.

Abstract

Ectoparasite biodiversity across a range of Western Australian threatened mammals is being described as part of a larger project examining the presence and impact of parasites in fauna. Fleas, ticks, mites and lice are collected in animals that are trapped across the State as part of the Department of Environment and Conservation's threatened mammal monitoring programs, an Australian Research Council funded project and the Woylie Conservation Research Programme.

Most of the published work on ectoparasite biodiversity was done in the first half of the last century and is based on drawings of morphological features. These monographs have been found to be inadequate and many rare mammals have no records of their parasite fauna described. New methods utilising PCR and scanning electron microscopes are being used to help describe species of ectoparasite. A tick found on the woylie may prove to be a new species. PCR is also being used to examine the role of ectoparasites as vectors of disease. The presence of introduced ectoparasites such as the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis underlines the risks to Australian fauna of novel vector-borne diseases. Results to date will be discussed and it is hoped that the work will contribute to wildlife management decisions as well as biodiversity research.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/13355
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