Number of putative new species discovered on Bush Blitz expeditions


Moths collected on the Oxley Wild Rivers survey, 2015

Only about a third of the ~300 moth species collected on the Oxley Wild Rivers Bush Blitz could be readily identified to species. Determining which of the remainder are new, and which merely undescribed, would be a herculean task.

Taxonomic breakdown of putative new species

True bugs occupy the number one spot on the Bush Blitz chart (see table below), followed by spiders, moths and bees; vascular plants are also in the mix.

The number of putative new species is a function of how poorly known a group is, in relation to its total richness, as well as of survey effort and the availability of taxonomic resources. True bugs score highly partly because they are not well known (~2,500 species have been described, out of a total fauna estimated at between 6,500 and 20,000 species), but also because they have been collected on almost every Bush Blitz, and because there is at present in Australia a core of true bug taxonomists with the time and expertise to identify the specimens brought in. Other groups that are even more diverse and less well known than true bugs (e.g. beetles, with ~23,000 of the estimated 80-100,000 Australian species decribed) have not yielded as many new species on Bush Blitz expeditions, because of lower survey effort and/or a shortage of taxonomic resources.

True bugs—terrestrial 410
Spiders 385
Moths 147
Bees 87
Jumping plantlice 71
Crustaceans 50
Beetles 39
Thrips 34
Lichens 33
Vascular plants 31
Snails and slugs—terrestrial 19
Wasps 17
Pseudoscorpions 12
Flies 10
Millipedes 8
Fungi 4
Flatworms [Phylum Platyhelminthes] 4
Scorpions 3
Mites and ticks 2
Cicadas, horned treehoppers, leafhoppers and planthoppers 2
Segmented worms [Phylum Annelida] 2
Mammals 2
Reptiles 2
Fishes 1
Caddisflies 1
Microwhip scorpions [Order Palpigradi] 1
Non-vascular plants 1

What about the vertebrates?

We haven’t yet discovered any new mammals, birds, reptiles or frogs on Bush Blitz expeditions. We have discovered a beautiful fish though.

Compared to invertebrates, the terrestrial vertebrate fauna of Australia is well known. However, DNA samples taken on Bush Blitz expeditions should help resolve the taxonomy of some species complexes of reptiles, frogs and even mammals, resulting in the description of new species.

Breakdown of putative new species by expedition

Charles Darwin, Kadji Kadji, Karara and Lochada Reserves WA, 2009 39
North-western NSW and Southern Qld, 2009–10 10
Darkwood Reserve NSW, 2010 6
Egg Islands, Flat Rock, Lower Porter Hill and Porter Hill, Murphys Flat, Seventeen Mile Plain and Vale of Belvoir Reserves Tas, 2010 21
Wet Tropics (Brooklyn, Cloudland and Melsonby [Gaarraay] Nature Refuges, Eubenngee Swamp, Hann Tableland and Melsonby [Gaarraay] National Parks, and Upper Bridge Creek Qld), 2010 36
Witchelina Reserve SA, 2010 119
Bon Bon Station Reserve SA, 2010 127
Central NSW (Dananbilla, Illunie and Koorawatha Nature Reserves NSW), 2010 35
Neds Corner Station Vic, 2010 21
Lake Condah (Kurtonitj, Lake Condah and Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Areas Vic), 2011 18
Cane River Conservation Park WA, 2011 61
Credo Station Reserve WA, 2011 140
Skullbone Plains Tas, 2012 19
Fish River Station NT, 2012 61
Wongalara Sanctuary NT, 2012 27
Hiltaba Nature Reserve and Gawler Ranges National Park SA, 2012 80
Henbury Station NT, 2013 11
Namadgi National Park ACT and Kosciuszko National Park NSW, 2013 69
Five Rivers Reserve and trawtha makuminya Tasmania, 2014 18
Flinders Island Tasmania, 2014 39
Durack River and Karunjie Stations Western Australia, 2014 41
Carnarvon Station Reserve, Queensland, 2014 127
Tarkine Tasmania, 2015 34
Olkola Country, Queensland, 2015 57
Judbarra / Gregory National Park, Northern Territory, 2015 29
Kiwirrkurra IPA, WA, 2015 (preliminary data) 41
Southwest National Park, Tas, 2016 (preliminary data) 64