Australia’s national science agency has revealed that it named and described more than 100 new species over the last year in a “win for biodiversity”.
Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra identified 139 new species and described them in scientific journals over the last 12 months.
The tally consists of 131 insects and invertebrates, four fish, three plants and one frog species, which include a species of ant that protects one of Australia’s rarest butterfly species.
According to the CSIRO, approximately 25 percent of Australia’s species are known to science.
David Yeates, a CSIRO entomologist, said officially describing species was key to protecting Australia’s biodiversity.
A newly named ant, Anonychomyrma inclinata, was found to play a crucial role in the survival of the endangered Bulloak Jewel Butterfly, Hypochrysops piceatus.
“The ecological requirements for this beautiful butterfly are very narrow, which is probably why it is so rare,” Yeates said in a media release.
“The ant species we’ve now named needs to be nesting in a mature bulloak. The butterfly caterpillars live under bark and are carried to soft bulloak leaves to feed at night by ‘babysitter’ ants. The ants protect the caterpillars from predators and receive a sugary gift from the caterpillars, a win-win for both species.”
The new Silverspot Weedfish was described from only two known specimens collected by a CSIRO research vessel in 2000 and 2005.
“The Weedfish were found 55 to 100 metres below sea level, which is interesting because they live deeper than other known members of the genus,” CSIRO scientist John Pogonoski said.
CSIRO said that the newly-named species also highlight the importance of collaboration, with most scientific papers involving authors from multiple scientific collections and universities across Australia and overseas.