Compiler and date details
May 2011 - ABRS
1999 - Updated by Andrew A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australia
1988 - Frances B. Michaelis and Cathy Yule
The Plecoptera is a fairly small order of aquatic insects, commonly called stoneflies, containing over 2,000 species. There are 191 described species in Australia, largely described from adult material. Nymphs of many Australian species are still unknown or undescribed. Eggs and nymphs of Australian species are aquatic. The nymphs have abdominal or anal gills, except for the Notonemouridae which possess no external gills. Adults are four-winged, but a few Australian species are brachypterous and apterous adults have been reported.
Plecoptera are found throughout Australia, except the Northern Territory, but their distribution is greatly restricted in Western Australia and South Australia due to the arid conditions. The genera Crypturoperla, Tasmanoperla (Austroperlidae), Tasmanocerca (Notonemouridae) and Cardioperla (Gripopterygidae) are restricted to Tasmania. Many genera in all families are confined to mainland Australia. Only the family Gripopterygidae occurs in Western Australia; Dinotoperla has the widest range. Theischinger et al. (2011) give a checklist of species, indication of their broad distributions and the results of a trial monitoring programme in the Snowy Mountains Kosciuszko National Park.
Most of the species inhabit the cooler regions of Australia, particularly the south-east, but some are found as far north as Cape York. Nymphs are usually found in cool, clean, running waters although a few species occur in lakes and one species inhabits temporary pools. A general account of the biology of stoneflies is given by Hynes (1976a).
Recent and increasing interest in catchment management and water quality has required a much greater taxonomic and biological knowledge of the stoneflies. A new generation of Australian entomologists is slowly responding to this demand.
The first Australian stonefly known was Eusthenia spectabilis, described by Gray and finely illustrated by Westwood in Griffith et al. (1832). The species is known throughout Tasmania, but the nymph cannot be distinguished from those of Eusthenia lacustris or Eusthenia reticulata (Hynes pers. comm.). The genus is endemic to Australia although the family Eustheniidae is found in Australia, New Zealand and South America. Newman (1839) described a specimen from 'Van Diemans Land' (Tasmania) as Eusthenia thalia, but would have placed it in a genus of its own had not Westwood considered it to belong to Eusthenia. This species was later transferred not only to the new genus Tasmanoperla, but also to the new family Austroperlidae (Tillyard 1921a, 1921c).
Walker (1852) described additional stonefly species from 'Van Diemans Land' and 'New Holland' (Australia). Among these were the first species from the large family Gripopterygidae, Perla beroe and Perla opposita, later placed in the genera Leptoperla and Dinotoperla, respectively (Tillyard 1921a).
The first record of the family Nemouridae from Australia was made by Tillyard (1924) when he described Spaniocerca tasmanica from Tasmania. This species was subsequently placed in the genus Austrocerca (Illies, 1975) in the family Notonemouridae (Zwick 1973).
Further species were added by McLachlan (1866), Enderlein (1909a, 1909b), Banks (1913, 1920) and Šámal (1921). The contribution of R.J. Tillyard, however, was outstanding. He erected two of the four extant families of Australian Plecoptera and recognised many species (Tillyard 1921a, 1921b, 1921c, 1923, 1924, 1926). Much later, the Australian Gripopterygidae and Nemouridae were revised (Kimmins 1951) and new species were described by Burns & Neboiss (1957), Perkins (1958), Neboiss (1959, 1962), Riek (1962, 1973), Weir (1967) and McLellan (1971). In the sixties and seventies, extended visits to Australia (including Tasmania) by the eminent plecopterists, J. Illies and P. Zwick from Germany, and H.B.N. Hynes from Canada, resulted in a deeper knowledge of taxonomy and biogeography (Illies 1968, 1969, 1975; Zwick 1979, 1980, 1981; Hynes 1974a, 1976b, 1981, 1982; Hynes & Hynes 1980).
When E.F. Riek (1970) reviewed the Australian Plecoptera, he noted 50 described and at least 34 undescribed species. Since then, revisions of all four Australian families, namely Eustheniidae (Zwick 1979), Austroperlidae (Illies 1969), Notonemouridae (Illies 1975) and Gripopterygidae (McLellan 1971), as well as a number of generic revisions and other papers (Theischinger 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984a, 1984b, 1984c, 1985, 1988, 1993; Yule 1984) have increased the number of described species to 191, all of which are endemic to Australia. All genera are endemic, except Stenoperla and Notonemoura, which also are found in New Zealand. A key to the adults of the Australian Plecoptera is provided by Theischinger & Cardale (1987) and Theischinger (1991) gives an overview of the Australian fauna.
Hynes and co-workers added an understanding of the life histories of many Australian species (Hynes 1974b; Hynes & Hynes 1975; Sephton & Hynes 1982) as well as providing the first regional keys to nymphs, e.g. Victoria (Hynes 1978) and Tasmania (Hynes 1989). Recently, Yule (1985, 1986) compared life cycles and dietary habits, and Yule & Jardel (1985) compared the eggs of some south-eastern Australian Plecoptera. Reviews of the taxonomy, distribution, ecology and life histories of the Australian Plecoptera, were given at the Ninth International Symposium on Plecoptera, Marysville, Victoria, in February 1987 (Campbell 1990).
Higher classification follows that used in the catalogues of the Plecoptera by Claassen (1940) and Illies (1966), and amended by Zwick (1973). No synonymic checklist for the Australian Plecoptera is available, but the checklist for the Tasmanian Plecoptera (Hynes, manuscript, pers. comm.) proved valuable in the preparation of the Catalogue.
The major holdings of Australian Plecoptera type material are in the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC), Division of Entomology, CSIRO, Canberra, and in the Museum Victoria, Melbourne. In 1928, R.J. Tillyard transferred his type collection from the Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand, to what is now the ANIC, when he became the first Chief of the Division. During compilation of the Catalogue, however, not all of the Tillyard types could be located in the ANIC. The reader should assume that type material is adult unless nymph is specified.
All publications containing original descriptions have been sighted. One of us (F.B.M.) was responsible for the Introduction to the Order, the families Eustheniidae, Austroperlidae and Notonemouridae, whilst the other (C.M.Y.) was initially responsible for the Gripopterygidae.
We are grateful for the information provided on type specimens by the ANIC, Canberra; Entomology Museum, University of Queensland; Museum Victoria; New Zealand Arthropod Collection, DSIR, Auckland (not visited); and G. Theischinger (not visited). We also wish to thank Dr Arturs Neboiss of the Museum Victoria for his help and encouragement.
Most of the work was done while the senior author was a Visiting Scientist at the ANIC; the co-operation of the Division of Entomology, CSIRO [now CSIRO Entomology] is gratefully acknowledged.
The updating of the Plecoptera database for the Australian Faunal Directory, derived from the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database, was supported by funding from the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) to A.A. Calder which is gratefully acknowledged. I am also indebted to Dr Alice Wells for editorial advice. This Catalogue was updated using the taxonomic-bibliographic software package Platypus that was developed by the Australian Biological Resources Study.
The preparation and data entry for this database was conducted in CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, and use of the Organisation's resources and facilities particularly computing resources is gratefully acknowledged.
The information on the Australian Faunal Directory site for the Plecoptera is derived from the Zoological Catalogue of Australia database compiled on the Platypus software program. It was updated by Andrew Calder and incorporates changes made to the work published on 23 December 1988 as Michaelis, F. & Yule, C.M. (1988). Plecoptera. pp. 133-176 in Walton, D.W. & Houston, W.W.K. (eds) Ephemeroptera, Megaloptera, Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera. Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 6. Canberra : AGPS xi 315 pp.
Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.
Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.
Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.
Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.
Banks, N. 1913. Synopses and descriptions of exotic Neuroptera. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 39: 201-242 [Date published 26 Aug. 1913]
Campbell, I.C. (ed.) 1990. Mayflies and Stoneflies: Life Histories and Biology. Proceedings of the 5th International Ephemeroptera Conference and the 9th International Plecoptera Conference. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic ix 366 pp.
Enderlein, G. 1909b. Über die Plecopteren –` Subfamilie Antarctoperlinae und eine neue Gattung derselben von den Auckland –` Inseln. 18 Beitrag zur Kenntnis der antarktischen Fauna. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1909: 679-684
Gray, G. in Griffith, E., Pidgeon, E. & Gray, G. 1832. Supplement on the Neuroptera. pp. 303–352 in Baron Cuvier The Animal Kingdom Arranged in Conformity with its Organisation. London : Whittaker, Treacher & Co. Vol. 15. [also recorded as Vol. 2 of the Class]
Neboiss, A. 1962. Notes on distribution and descriptions of new species (Orders: Odonata, Plecoptera, Orthoptera, Trichoptera and Coleoptera). Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne 25: 243-258
Newman, E. 1839. On the synonymy of the Perlites, together with brief characters of the old, and of a few new species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History ns 3: 32-37, 84-90 [Publication date McLellan, I.D. 1971. A revision of Australian Gripopterygidae (Insecta: Plecoptera). Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 2: 1–79 ]
Šámal, J. 1921. O nkterch novch a málo známch druzick Plecopter Asijsko Austrálské oblasti. Casopis Ceskoslovenské Spolecnosti Entomologické 18: 14-24, 58-71 [French summary]
Theischinger, G. 1988. New and little known species of stoneflies from Australia (Insecta: Plecoptera). Stapfia 17: 147-157 [Date published 30/Dec/1988]
Theischinger, G. 1991. Plecoptera (Stoneflies). pp. 311-319 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 xiii 542 pp.
Theischinger, G., Miller, J., Tang, C., Krogh, M. & Pope, E. 2011. The benefits of using both adult and larval stoneflies (Plecoptera) in environmental surveys: an example from New South Wales with a summary of the Australian stonefly fauna. Australian Entomologist 38(1): 1-20 [includes a checklist of species and indication of their broad distributions]
Tillyard, R.J. 1921b. The wing venation of the Leptoperlidae (Order Perlaria), with description of a new species of the genus Dinotoperla, from Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 45: 270-274
History of changes
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