The project examines parasites of Australia’s 14 most common
freshwater turtles collected from sites
throughout the continent. This project represents the first comprehensive
examination of the parasites of freshwater turtles on a continental
scale. It is anticipated that the project will recover representatives
of six phyla (Acanthocephala, Annelida, Apicomplexa, Euglenozoa,
Nematoda, Platyhelminthes) and a substantial majority of all species
of parasites that can be found in Australian freshwater turtles.
Parasites will be collected, cataloged, identified and described
as part of the project and deposited in museum collections in
both Australia and the United States.
Project data, turtle specimens and tissues are provided to researchers
active in the study of Australian freshwater turtle biology and to Australian
state museums. In addition to uncovering unknown aspects of Australia’s
biodiversity the project will generate data and specimens necessary to test a
variety of hypotheses concerning parasite biodiversity, biogeography and evolution.
Thus, the project focuses on an understudied host-parasite system that and has
a potential to contribute into evolutionary and ecological theory and provide
data for conservation and management decisions.
The project has provided and provides research opportunities
to multiple undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Nebraska
at Omaha and the University of North Dakota. The project participants are working
at four institutions in the United States and three foreign institutions, two
in Australia and one in the Ukraine.