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Kenny

Kenny Travouillon

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Western Australia None > Museums, Galleries And Libraries
Science > Taxonomy
The Australian Biological Resources Study Churchill Fellowship to document the diversity of bandicoots and bilbies through time and space - UK, France, Germany, USA
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Conclusions and Recommendations

The Churchill fellowship has resulted in brand new discoveries, and rediscoveries. Analysis of the results so far is confirming that the extinct Pig-footed Bandicoot was not one but two species. The Western Barred-bandicoot is a complex on at least 5 species, 4 of which had been named in the past, and one unnamed species in the Nullarbor region. The short-nosed bandicoots (genus Isoodon), bilbies (genus Macrotis) and some of the New Guinean bandicoots (genera Microperoryctes and Echymipera) are also currently underrepresented with more species than we currently recognise. More data needs to be collected in Australian museums in order to complete this research, and work out the exact number of species, including tissue sampling to recover and compare their DNA. Four new species of fossil bandicoot and bilbies have been identified from specimens from central Australia, which will help expand our understanding of the evolution of this marsupial group in Australia.

Organisations involved in conservation often use distribution maps in the decision making to work out where they will reintroduce a species. Unfortunately, some distribution maps are the result of lumping of multiple species together or incomplete work. There is a desperate need for some of the maps to be re-evaluated in light of new genetic and taxonomic work. Here, I hope that my research will help in the decision making, especially for the Western Barred-bandicoot, which is getting introduced in areas it never had occurred in before. This has the potential of being a big issue if it is not able to adapt to the new habitat it is being introduced to. As a result, it is best to use the subfossil record to work out its actual past distribution, and re-introduce it there.

The Churchill Fellowship provides the unique possibility for researchers in Australia to travel overseas to examine and study type specimens in museums, to have a better understanding of the species that occur in Australia, and discover new species. I would definitely recommend other researchers that need to have access to type specimens to also apply for a Churchill Fellowship in order to resolve issues in the groups they study, and discover new species.

I would also recommend researchers to take the time to have a more thorough browse through museum collections, as new species are often found amongst specimens of a known species. I have found a new species in the collection of Museum Victoria that way, and I was hoping to find more specimens of that species in collections overseas, but alas, no other specimens has turned up.

Finally, having met curators, collection managers, and researchers in museums and universities overseas, I have gain a lot of knowledge from sharing experiences in museum collection management, and gain new collaborators on research projects. The data I gathered during this fellowship will be used in many publications in the near future, through collaboration. I hope that this research will have a significant impact on our understanding of taxonomy, evolution and conservation of Australia marsupials.

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