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Type: Journal article
Title: Is the Australian subterranean fauna uniquely diverse?
Author: Guzik, M.
Austin, A.
Cooper, S.
Harvey, M.
Humphreys, W.
Bradford, T.
Eberhard, S.
King, R.
Leijs, R.
Muirhead, K.
Tomlinson, M.
Citation: Invertebrate Systematics, 2010; 24(5):407-418
Publisher: C S I R O Publishing
Issue Date: 2010
ISSN: 1445-5226
Statement of
Michelle T. Guzik, Andrew D. Austin, Steven J. B. Cooper, Mark S. Harvey, William F. Humphreys, Tessa Bradford, Stefan M. Eberhard, Rachael A. King, Remko Leys, Kate A. Muirhead and Moya Tomlinson
Abstract: Australia was historically considered a poor prospect for subterranean fauna but, in reality, the continent holds a great variety of subterranean habitats, with associated faunas, found both in karst and non-karst environments. This paper critically examines the diversity of subterranean fauna in several key regions for the mostly arid western half of Australia. We aimed to document levels of species richness for major taxon groups and examine the degree of uniqueness of the fauna. We also wanted to compare the composition of these ecosystems, and their origins, with other regions of subterranean diversity world-wide. Using information on the number of ‘described’ and ‘known’ invertebrate species (recognised based on morphological and/or molecular data),we predict that the total subterranean fauna for the western half of the continent is 4140 species, of which ~10% is described and 9% is ‘known’ but not yet described. The stygofauna, water beetles, ostracods and copepods have the largest number of described species, while arachnids dominate the described troglofauna. Conversely, copepods, water beetles and isopods are the poorest known groups with less than 20% described species, while hexapods (comprising mostly Collembola, Coleoptera, Blattodea and Hemiptera) are the least known of the troglofauna. Compared with other regions of the world, we consider the Australian subterranean fauna to be unique in its diversity compared with the northern hemisphere for three key reasons: the range and diversity of subterranean habitats is both extensive and novel; direct faunal links to ancient Pangaea and Gondwana are evident, emphasising their early biogeographic history; and Miocene aridification, rather than Pleistocene post-ice age driven diversification events (as is predicted in the northern hemisphere), are likely to have dominated Australia’s subterranean speciation explosion. Finally, we predict that the geologically younger, although more poorly studied, eastern half of the Australian continent is unlikely to be as diverse as the western half, except for stygofauna in porous media. Furthermore, based on similar geology, palaeogeography and tectonic history to that seen in the western parts of Australia, southern Africa, parts of South America and India may also yield similar subterranean biodiversity to that described here.
Rights: Copyright 2011 CSIRO
RMID: 0020108764
DOI: 10.1071/IS10038
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute Leaders publications
Environment Institute publications

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