Nav: Home

Twenty-four new beetle species discovered in Australian rain forests

January 21, 2016

As many as twenty-four new species from Australian rainforests are added to the weevil genus Trigonopterus. Museum scientists Dr. Alexander Riedel, State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe, Germany, and Rene Tanzler, Zoological State Collection Munich, Germany, have first discovered them among unidentified specimens in different beetle collections. The study is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

Australia is well known for its extensive deserts and savanna habitats. However, a great number of native Australian species are restricted to the wet tropical forests along the east coast of northern Queensland. These forests are also the home of the recent discoveries.

Most of the weevil species now recognised as new have already been collected in the 80s and 90s of the past century. Since then they had been resting in museum collections until German researcher Alexander Riedel had the opportunity to study them.

"Usually a delay of decades or even centuries occurs between the encounter of a new species in the field and its thorough scientific study and formal naming," he explains. "This is due to the small number of experts who focus on species discovery," he elaborates. "There are millions of unidentified insect specimens stored in collections around the world but only few people have the training necessary to identify those of special interest."

However, old museum specimens alone are not enough either. Nowadays, researchers try to include DNA data in their descriptions, and the necessary sequencing techniques work more efficiently with freshly collected material. Therefore, the scientists set off to the field after they have studied the collections of others. Nevertheless, the German team were led to the discovery of one additional new species, which had never been seen before. They called it Trigonopterus garradungensis after the place where it was found.

All of the newly described weevils are restricted to small areas. Some are found only in a single locality. Presumably, this is a consequence of their winglessness, which has prevented them from spreading around. Furthermore, most of them dwell in the leaf litter where they are easily overlooked. Usually, they come to light during specific surveys of the litter fauna.

This is what Geoff Monteith from the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, for instance, has done in the past. As a result, his work is now relevant to conservation because highly localised species are extremely vulnerable to changes of their habitat such as climate change or the arrival of invasive species.

It is likely that Trigonopterus weevils have originated in Australia, the oldest landmass in the region. The island of New Guinea is geologically much younger, but there the genus has quickly enough diversified into hundreds of species. Studies investigating such evolutionary processes depend on names and clear diagnoses of the species. As a result of the present research, for the Australian fauna these are now available.

Besides the publication in the open-access journal ZooKeys, high-resolution photographs of each species are uploaded to the Species ID website, along with the scientific description. All this puts a face to the species name, and therefore is an important prerequisite for future studies on their evolution.
-end-
Original Source:

Riedel A, Tanzler R (2016) Revision of the Australian species of the weevil genus Trigonopterus Fauvel. ZooKeys 556: 97-162. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.556.6126

Pensoft Publishers

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1┬░Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...