Seven species of pseudoscorpions discovered by Bush Blitz
Australia’s leading species discovery programme, Bush Blitz, discovered seven species of pseudoscorpions believed to be new to science, during an expedition to Wilinggin Country in Western Australia’s West Kimberley region.
The pseudoscorpions were discovered by Dr Mark Harvey, Head of Department and Curator (Arachnids and Myriapods) of the Western Australian Museum, at Charnley River Station, a property of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and Wunaamin Conservation Park.
Dr Harvey, who is an arachnologist specializing in spiders, scorpions and pseudoscorpions, believes some of the pseudoscorpions may be endemic to the Kimberley region, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.
As the name suggests, pseudoscorpions aren’t actually scorpions – although with eight legs and the claws of a scorpion, they look very similar. Both pseudoscorpions and scorpions are arachnids, but pseudoscorpions have a pear-shaped body and no tail. They look like a cross between a spider, a scorpion and a tick.
Like spiders, pseudoscorpions hunt or ambush their prey. They have glands in their claws that produce venom, which is used to immobilize their prey. They can also spin silk from a gland in their jawbone to make cocoons for mating or moulting.
Bush Blitz undertakes expeditions to conservation areas across Australia. He has discovered more than 1,800 new species of Australian plants and animals over the past decade, adding thousands of new species records to those already known.
There are around 580,000 to 680,000 species in Australia, but up to three quarters of this biodiversity has yet to be identified and scientifically described. Around 45% of mainland Australia and more than 90% of our marine area has never been thoroughly studied by scientists.
Fifteen scientists, aboriginal rangers, traditional owners and five teachers from Western Australia from the Bush Blitz TeachLive project are working together during the West Kimberley Expedition, to share their knowledge and better understand the important role biodiversity plays in healthy Australian ecosystems and durable.
Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW) through Parks Australia, BHP and Earthwatch Australia. It documents the plants and animals of Australia to better understand, protect and manage our biodiversity.
Quotes from Dr. Mark Harvey, Head of Department and Curator (Arachnids and Myriapods) of the WA Museum:
“Pseudoscorpions can help scientists better understand the effects of climate change on our wildlife, as small arthropods like pseudoscorpions are very sensitive to changes in their environment, making them an excellent indicator species, like canaries in a mine. of coal.
“Although they are found all over the world, very little is known about the biology of pseudoscorpions. These tiny arachnids are only about 3-8mm long but are rarely seen because they live in spaces under the sun. bark and rocks.They play an important role in most ecosystems by feeding on other small arthropods such as insects.
“Taxonomy is the science of describing and naming new species, it is the first step to understanding a species. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t protect or manage it.
Quotes from Environment and Water Minister, MP Tanya Plibersek:
“The discovery of any new Australian species is wonderful but discovering seven new species of pseudoscorpions in the early days of the Bush Blitz expedition in the West Kimberly is truly exciting. I commend Dr Mark Harvey and the Bush Blitz team for their exciting discoveries.
“The State of the Environment Report shows that Australian ecosystems are under cumulative and compounding pressures, leading to ecosystem collapse. The discovery of important indicator species such as the pseudoscorpion can help us better understand Australia’s changing environment and the impact of climate change on terrestrial species.
“Working with leading Australian zoologists and botanists and institutions such as the Western Australian Museum and the Western Australian Herbarium, the Bush Blitz program has now discovered over 1,800 species new to science – an astonishing record for this important programme.
“The Australian Government is a strong supporter of the Bush Blitz program, which is helping fill knowledge gaps about Australia’s biodiversity.”