10 new species of Australian ground beetle identified in collection
Image: beetles from the QVMAG collection.
In November 2022, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery enjoyed a week-long visit from Professor Kipling Will (University of California, Berkeley), the world authority on several major groups of Australian carnivorous ground beetles in the Family Carabidae.
Tasmania has a rich ground beetle fauna comprising more than 300 known species, and QVMAG has a large collection of specimens from field work conducted over the last decade.
Many of these specimens were not identified, so through a combined QVMAG/TMAG funding arrangement with the Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections (CHAFC), Professor Will was able to visit the QVMAG entomology collection for a week alongside Dr Lynne Forster (Honorary Research Associate, TMAG).
Having reliably named specimens by the world's leading experts is one of the most critical aspects of any natural history collection.
So, why is this so important?
There are more species of insects than any other group of animals, and beetles are the most diverse group of insects.
Insects are sensitive to environmental changes such as habitat loss, pollution and climate change, making them important 'bioindicators'—meaning that changes in their abundance and distribution can indicate changes in the environment that we might not notice until that change had become much greater.
Professor Will's expertise will enable QVMAG to register the specimens and upload the information onto international digital platforms where the information is available to anyone, anywhere in the world.
While visiting the institution, Professor Will and Dr Forster discovered 4 new Genera, 10 entirely new species, and at least 6 new Tasmanian records.
Several prominent and diverse groups of ground beetles have had no modern revision of taxonomy and so remain a challenge to identify.
Professor Will stated "This situation further reinforces the need to have comprehensive, local collections for Tasmanian research and biosecurity".
Professor Will’s visit delivered a remarkable result and demonstrated that there are still decades of collecting and taxonomic work left to do to fully understand Tasmania's insect fauna.
QVMAG will continue to document and preserve representative voucher specimens of our invertebrate fauna through targeted field work in poorly sampled regions and habitats.