Biodiversity and taxonomy of Ostracoda (Crustacea) from temporary water bodies of inland Western Australia

Australian Biodiversity Resources Study (ABRS) Project nr RF211-33

Project partners

Koen Martens, Isa Schön (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), Stuart Halse (Bennelongia Environmental Consultants), Annette Koenders, Rylan Shearn (Edith Cowan University)

  1. To document Western Australia’s taxic biodiversity of temporary wetlands using non-marine ostracods as a model group, describing at least 20 new species and five genera and re-describing known taxa, with special reference to selected endemic Cyprididae.
  2. To confirm morphological species identifications, and unravel evolutionary histories and phylogenetic relationships in three groups of endemic ostracods from temporary habitats in Western Australia (Bennelongia, Heterocypris and Ilyodromus) by molecular screening of individuals and populations.
  3. To allow identification of Australia’s biodiversity by providing an illustrated, generic key to all recent, non-marine ostracod genera in Australia.

Material used for the present revisions and descriptions has been collected throughout Western Australia. Reference material was collected in Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales and the ACT.

Current results

Work to date has been on Bennelongia. Prior to this project, two species had been reported from Western Australia by De Deckker (1981), namely B. barangaroo and B. australis. Now 22 new species have been described from WA (Martens et al. 2012, 2013, 2015) and a further three new species have been described from Queensland (Shearn et al. 2012), with one of these species also occurring in WA (Martens et al. 2013). For most species, molecular phylogenies have been constructed, showing mutual relationships within the genus. Species identities, including the presence of cryptic species, are confirmed with Birky’s 4x rule and the GYMC model. This part of the molecular work is done primarily by Isa Schön, who will also coordinate the papers on the general phylogeny and phylogeography of the genus Bennelongia.

As a spin-off project, Patrick De Deckker (Australian National University) and Koen Martens used recent collections of Bennelongia to describe the extraordinary changes in external valve morphology that occur as Bennelongia grow through juvenile stages to adults. An additional output of the project has been the collection of many populations of the Holarctic ostracod Eucypris virens south of Perth. A large EU-funded project has shown that E. virens is actually a species-complex, comprising about 40 cryptric species in Europe. Genetic work on the WA populations showed that at least three of the European species are found in WA, probably brought out by early settlers (Koenders et al. 2012).

  • De Deckker, P. & Martens, K. 2013. Extraordinary morphological changes in valve morphology during the ontogeny of several species of the Australian ostracod genus Bennelongia (Crustacea, Ostracoda). European Journal of Taxonomy 36, 1-37 Link
  • Koenders, A., Martens, K., Halse, S.A. and Schön, I. 2012. Cryptic species of the Eucypris virens species complex (Ostracoda, Crustacea) have invaded Western Australia. Biological Invasions 14, 2187-2201. Link
  • Martens, K., Halse, S.A. & Schön, I. 2012. Nine new species of Bennelongia De Deckker & McKenzie, 1981 (Crustacea, Ostracoda) from Western Australia, with the description of a new subfamily. European Journal of Taxonomy 8, 1-56. Link
  • Martens, K., Halse, S.A. & Schön, I. 2013. On the Bennelongia barangaroo lineage (Crustacea, Ostracoda) in Western Australia, with the description of seven new species. European Journal of Taxonomy 66, 1-59 Link
  • Martens K., Halse S. & Schön I. 2015. On the Bennelongia nimala and B. triangulata lineages (Crustacea, Ostracoda) in Western Australia, with the description of six new species. European Journal of Taxonomy 111, 1–36. Link
  • Schön, I., Shearn, R., Martens, K., Koenders, A., and Halse, S.A. 2015. Age and origin of Australian Bennelongia (Crustacea, Ostracoda). Hydrobiologia 750, 125-146. Link
  • Shearn, R., Koenders, A., Halse, S.A., Schön, I. and Martens, K. 2012. A review of Bennelongia De Deckker & McKenzie, 1981 (Crystacea, Ostracoda) species from eastern Australia with a description of three new species. European Journal of Taxonomy 25, 1-35. Link