More new Gehyra species!

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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More new Gehyra species, six to be exact, were just described in a recent paper co-authored by one of Biologic’s Senior Zoologists, Ryan Ellis.

The paper (available open access HERE) resolves the taxonomy of the Gehyra australis and Gehyra koira species complexes, which occur across the monsoon tropics of northern Australia.

The paper provides a redescription of two species (G. australis and G. koira), redescription of G. ipsa as a full species (formerly G. koira ipsa), description of three new species within the G. australis complex (G. arnhemica, G. gemina, and G. lauta) and three within the G. koira complex (G. calcitectus, G. chimera and G. lapistola).

The new species are a great example of cryptic species (i.e. species that are genetically distinct yet still look very similar) and that species can evolve to be genetically distinct without the way they look differing great deal (why change if you don’t need to?). For example, one of the new species (G. chimera) is genetically more closely related to G. koira but looks more similar to species in the G. australis complex.

The Biologic team is looking forward to getting up into the Kimberley and getting some of these new species in hand in the near future.

 

Photo: Gehyra Koira at Theda Station, Western Australia. Taken by R.J. Ellis

The Mornington Blindsnake, Anilios vagurimus

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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Biologic would like to introduce the newest Australian snake species to be described, Anilios vagurimus or the Mornington Blindsnake. The species was described by Biologic Senior Zoologist Ryan Ellis in a paper published on New Year’s Eve in the journal Records of the Western Australian Museum (available open access HERE), what a way to end the year!

The Mornington Blindsnake is a morphologically distinct (for a blindsnake anyway) species known from a single specimen in the central Kimberley, with no known photos of the species in life. The description of A. vagurimus increases the number of species in the genus to 48, the most diverse genus of snakes in Australia and one of the top ten most diverse snake genera globally.

What’s in a name: The name vagurima is formed from the Latin words vagus (wandering) and rima (cleft), meaning wandering-cleft, in reference to the diagnostic path of the nasal cleft (a small suture in the nasal scale) possessed by the species which can be used to identify it from other species.

 

Mornington Blindsnake
Photo caption: The holotype specimen of Anilios vagurima held in the Western Australian Museum.

Ecological Society of Australia 2019 Conference, Tasmania

by Biologic Environmental Survey
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Biologic attended the Ecological Society of Australia 2019 Conference in Tasmania this week, with the main topic centered on Ecology: Science for Practical Solutions. Upwards of 500 people attended with representatives from research, government, industry, practitioners, consultants and the general public.

A series of symposiums and open forums were held across the five days, ranging from Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Urban Ecology, Conservation (flora, fauna and translocation), Field-based Manipulative Experiments, Agricultural Landscapes, Feral Predators, Technology, Practitioner Engagement, Fire, Invasives, Ecology and Art, Aquatic (Fresh and Marine), Climate, Vegetation Science, Quantitative Ecology, Restoration and Forest Ecology to name a few.

There was a fantastic plenary talk from the outgoing President of the ESA on the censorship and suppression of scientific research results and professional advice in the government, environmental consultancies and universities resulting in poor environmental outcomes, poorly informed policy and compromised public debate.

 

Ecological Society of Australia ConferencePhoto: Ecological Society of Australia Conference. Taken by: Clinton Van den Bergh, 2019.