Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd

Leederville, Australia

Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd

Leederville, Australia
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Harvey M.S.,Western Australian Museum | Harvey M.S.,University of Western Australia | Harvey M.S.,American Museum of Natural History | Harvey M.S.,California Academy of Sciences | And 17 more authors.
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2011

A major challenge confronting many contemporary systematists is how to integrate standard taxonomic research with conservation outcomes. With a biodiversity crisis looming and ongoing impediments to taxonomy, how can systematic research continue to document species and infer the 'Tree of Life', and still maintain its significance to conservation science and to protecting the very species it strives to understand? Here we advocate a systematic research program dedicated to documenting short-range endemic taxa, which are species with naturally small distributions and, by their very nature, most likely to be threatened by habitat loss, habitat degradation and climate change. This research can dovetail with the needs of industry and government to obtain high-quality data to inform the assessment of impacts of major development projects that affect landscapes and their biological heritage. We highlight how these projects are assessed using criteria mandated by Western Australian legislation and informed by guidance statements issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (Western Australia). To illustrate slightly different biological scenarios, we also provide three case studies from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which include examples demonstrating a rapid rise in the collection and documentation of diverse and previously unknown subterranean and surface faunas, as well as how biological surveys can clarify the status of species thought to be rare or potentially threatened. We argue that 'whole of biota' surveys (that include all invertebrates) are rarely fundable and are logistically impossible, and that concentrated research on some of the most vulnerable elements in the landscape short-range endemics, including troglofauna and stygofauna can help to enhance conservation and research outcomes. © CSIRO.

Johnson M.S.,University of Western Australia | Stankowski S.,University of Western Australia | Stankowski S.,University of Oregon | Hamilton Z.R.,Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd. | Teale R.J.,University of Western Australia
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2016

Phylogenetic diversity of Rhagada land snails is high on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia, with four distinct clades, representing three of the four major clades of the Pilbara region. Detailed sampling indicated little geographic overlap of the four clades, conforming to the general rarity of congeneric sympatry in Australian camaenids. The diversity on the Burrup Peninsula includes three previously unclassified morphotypes. One of these lies within the broad endemic clade of the adjacent Dampier Archipelago, and is provisionally assigned to the island species R. perprima, based on phylogenetic evidence. The two other undescribed morphotypes constitute an endemic clade that is the sister group of the broader Dampier Archipelago clade. All COI p-distances within clades are less than 6%, whereas nearly all distances between clades exceed 10%, the gap corresponding to differences among species of Rhagada generally. One morphotype in the Burrup Peninsula endemic clade has a low spire and a distinctive keel, and is restricted to a single rockpile. Detailed local sampling revealed gradation between this form and the more widely distributed globose morphotype. On the basis of genetic similarity and morphological continuity, we describe the morphologically variable endemic Burrup Peninsula clade as Rhagada ngurrana, sp. nov., which has a distribution spanning only 9km. © 2016 The authors.

Castalanelli M.A.,Western Australian Museum | Teale R.,Western Australian Museum | Teale R.,Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd | Teale R.,University of Western Australia | And 8 more authors.
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2014

The Pilbara bioregion of Western Australia is an area that contains vast mineral deposits and unique ecosystems. To ensure that mineral deposits are mined with minimal impact on the natural environment, impact assessment surveys are required to determine what fauna and flora species are located within proposed development areas, in particular, by determining the distributions of short-range endemic species (SREs). One infraorder of Arachnida, the Mygalomorphae (trapdoor spiders and their kin), are frequently identified as SREs. These identifications are traditionally performed using morphological techniques; however, only males can be reliably identified to species. Furthermore, the majority of species have not been formally described and males comprise only ∼5% of specimens collected. To assess mygalomorph diversity and the distribution of species in the Pilbara, we employed a molecular barcoding approach. Sequence data from the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene were obtained from 1134 specimens, and analysed using Bayesian methods. Only a fraction of the total mygalomorph fauna of the Pilbara has been documented, and using a species boundary cut-off of 9.5% sequence divergence, we report an increase in species richness of 191%. Barcoding provides a rapid, objective method to help quantify mygalomorph species identifications and their distributions, and these data, in turn, provide crucial information that regulatory authorities can use to assess the environmental impacts of large-scale developments. © CSIRO 2014.

Johnson M.S.,University of Western Australia | Hamilton Z.R.,University of Western Australia | Hamilton Z.R.,Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd | Teale R.,University of Western Australia | Teale R.,Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2012

In the Dampier Archipelago of Western Australia's Pilbara Region, several locally endemic, morphologically distinctive species of Rhagada land snails occur, contrasting with the morphologically conservative species with wider distributions on the adjacent mainland. To test alternative origins of this unusual local diversity in a continental archipelago, we examined sequences of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 and 16S mitochondrial genes in 22 described species and eight undescribed forms, including all known morphospecies from the Pilbara Region's Dampier Archipelago and adjacent mainland. Phylogenetic analyses consistently resolved four, deep clades within the Pilbara Region, with a mean sequence divergence of 15-18%. All but one of the species from the Dampier Archipelago formed one of the major clades, indicating that the morphological radiation in the archipelago evolved locally, rather than through multiple, relictual mainland lineages. Morphological divergence spanning almost that of the entire genus was within a subclade with sequence divergence <4%, highlighting the disconnection between morphological diversification and levels of molecular genetic divergence. This in situ morphological radiation in the Dampier Archipelago, which transcends variation seen over much larger distances on the mainland, is unusual for a continental archipelago, and may relate to local heterogeneity of land forms. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London.

Brown L.,University of Western Australia | Finston T.,University of Western Australia | Humphreys G.,Biota Environmental science Pty Ltd | Eberhard S.,Subterranean Ecology Pty Ltd | Pinder A.,Bentley Delivery Center
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2015

Patterns of genetic diversity in the groundwater fauna of Australia have largely focused on obligate stygobites of relatively large size, namely, crustaceans. Oligochaete worms, with their smaller size and broader ecological niches, provide a contrasting model in which to examine such patterns. Genetic diversity in subterranean oligochaetes in the Pilbara region of Western Australia were examined using one nuclear (18S) and two mitochondrial (COI, 12S) regions. The observed variation was assessed at three levels of hydrology - river basin, creek catchment, and individual bore or site - to document geographic patterns. Most species appeared to be restricted to an individual catchment; however, five species, representing three families, were widespread, with some haplotypes being shared between bores, catchments and even basins. General patterns suggest that while hydrology plays a role in the distribution of oligochaete species, it does not always confine them to catchments, in contrast to patterns observed in groundwater isopods and amphipods in the region. We suggest that intrinsic characteristics of oligochaetes, such as body size, shape, reproductive strategy and ecological requirements, may have allowed them greater dispersal within the subterranean biome of the Pilbara. In particular, oligochaetes may occupy subterranean and surface waters, increasing their opportunities for dispersal. © CSIRO 2015.

O'neill C.,University of Western Australia | O'neill C.,Rio Tinto Alcan | Johnson M.S.,University of Western Australia | Hamilton Z.R.,University of Western Australia | And 2 more authors.
Invertebrate Systematics | Year: 2014

Recent collecting in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia has revealed substantial increases in the apparent distributions of species of the genus Quistrachia, and the discovery of new forms, raising questions about the morphological taxonomy. To resolve these questions, we examined mtDNA sequences in all known species of Quistrachia, the unidentified new forms and other members of the subfamily Sinumeloninae. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed the monophyly of Quistrachia, including one of the new forms. The two other new forms represent new genera within the Sinumeloninae. Monophyly of each species was confirmed, with the exception of Q. legendrei, in which populations from the Dampier Archipelago and those from the adjacent Burrup Peninsula are in separate clades. Based on phylogeny and levels of divergence within other species in the genus, the Burrup populations appear to be conspecific with Q. turneri. This is supported by anatomical comparisons, but not by shell morphology, which may well reflect the evolutionary plasticity of shell form. Given the patchiness of searches for land snails in the largely inaccessible Pilbara region, additional species almost certainly remain to be discovered. Our study shows the value of including molecular analyses in determining the taxonomic status of new forms. © CSIRO 2014.

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