The Australian cestode fauna remains poorly documented with a total of 342 species recorded to date. The best-studied host groups are the elasmobranchs and the marsupials, but even in these groups, only 32 and 25% of known host species, respectively, have been examined for parasites. Overall, cestodes have been reported from only 5% of the known vertebrate species. Representatives of virtually all cestode orders and most of the cyclophyllidean families have been recorded from Australia. In spite of these deficiencies, some biogeographical patterns are discernible. In the elasmobranchs, a significant proportion of the known cestodes is endemic while other associations exist with eastern Pacific and Indo-west Pacific faunas. Also identifiable is a group of cosmopolitan species. The nematotaeniids of amphibians suggest Gondwanan affiliations, while the known proteocephalideans, parasitic in reptiles and amphibians, may represent an Asian invasion. Associations of the avian cestodes represent an unexplored but potentially rewarding avenue of biogeographical study. The cestodes of mammals include families with a Gondwanan distribution (Linstowiidae, Hymenolepididae) as well as those (Anoplocephalidae) with an apparent origin in southeast Asia. In addition, a number of genera of cyclophyllidean cestodes (Anoplotaenia, Dasyurotaenia) occurring in marsupials represent biogeographical challenges, not being accommodated within any of the known cestode families. The Australian cestode fauna therefore provides potentially outstanding opportunities for studies of the biogeographical relationships of a number of cestode groups. © 2002 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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