From fish to ants: 139 new species named by CSIRO

August 9, 2022
Press release

In a victory for biodiversity, CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has revealed that 139 new species have been named and described by its researchers and partners over the past year.

With only around 25% of Australia’s species known to science, scientific names are vital for researchers, governments and the community to better understand the country’s vast ecosystems.

CSIRO scientist John Pogonoski, who helped name four new species of marine fish, said the work highlights the importance of scientific collections, including CSIRO’s National Research Collections Australia.

“We named three new species of small, brightly colored anthias by comparing specimens of related species held in fish collections,” Pogonoski said.

“New species of anthias are always recognized because they are rarely encountered because they are outside normal diving depths, small in size, or live in difficult-to-sample habitats,” he said.

Mr. Pogonoski said the new Silverspot Weedfish, Heteroclinus argyrospiloswas described from only two known specimens collected in southwestern Australia by researchers from the former CSIRO Research Vessel Southern Surveyor in 2000 and 2005.

“Weedfish have been found between 55 and 100 meters below sea level, which is interesting because they live deeper than other known members of the genus,” he said.

In addition to the 117 insects named over the past year, scientists have named 14 other invertebrates including 11 jumping spiders, a centipede, an earthworm and a marine trematode that was discovered inside a fish.

CSIRO entomologist Dr David Yeates said the known but newly named ant Anonychomyrma inclinata was especially special, with its support of the endangered Bulloak Jewel Butterfly, Hypochrysops piceatus.

“The ecological requirements for this beautiful butterfly are very narrow, which is probably why it is so rare,” said Dr Yeates.

“The species of ant we have now named must nest in a mature bulloak, Allocasuarina luehmannii. Butterfly caterpillars live under bark and are carried on soft bulloak leaves for nighttime feeding by “babysitter” ants. The ants protect the caterpillars from predators and receive a sweet gift from the caterpillars, a win-win for both species,” he said.

The newly named species also underscore the importance of collaboration, with most scientific papers involving authors from multiple scientific collections and universities in Australia and overseas.

“Working with our research community to name species is hugely important – it’s the first step for Australia to understand and manage its biodiversity,” said Dr Yeates.

“As a country, we are still in the very exciting phase of species discovery,” he said.

New species at a glance:

Marine fish (4)

  • Heteroclinus argyrospilos (Silverspot Weedfish) lives in waters 55-100m deep in southwestern Australia (SA and WA).
  • Pseudanthias paralourgus (Purple-tipped Anthias) lives in water 110-119m deep in southern Queensland.
  • Tosana longipinnis (Longfin Threadtail Anthias) lives in waters from 62 to 252 m deep, from the central coast of Queensland to the central coast of New South Wales.
  • Tosana dampieriensis (Dampierian Threadtail Anthias) lives in waters 66-177m deep in northern Western Australia.

Plants (3)

  • Lobelia pachytricha is a climbing plant with pretty blue to mauve flowers with yellow markings.
  • Axillary gomphrena and G. longistyla have been described using specimens held in Australian herbaria.

Frog (1)

Insects (117)

  • 39 gall wasps of the Americas.
  • 34 beetles, including the 2 weevils of the new genus Undarobius found in the lava caves of Undara Volcanic National Park in northeast Queensland.
  • 16 grasshoppers
  • 13 caddisflies
  • 12 thrips
  • 1 ant – Anonychomyrma inclinatathe obligated attendant of the rare and magnificent Bulloak Jewel butterfly Hypochrysops piceatus.
  • 1 fly – Teratomyza ismayithe earliest known fern fly from New Guinea.
  • 1 bug – a leafhopper found near Canberra and named Wallaciana namadgi after Namadgi National Park.

Other invertebrates (14)

  • 11 jumping spiders
  • 1 Centipede – the first centipede with more than 1000 legs.
  • 1 earthworm
  • 1 marine trematode – Enenterum petrae was found inside a species of fish, the Brassy Drummer (Cyphosus vaigiensis), collected off Lizard Island in Queensland.

CSIRO thanks the many research partners involved in collaborative projects to describe and name the new species featured here and the traditional owners of all the lands on which they are found.

Additional photography available here:

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