Twenty-four new beetle species from Australian rainforests are added to the weevil genus Trigonopterus. The recent discovery has been made possible through scientists Alexander Riedel from the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe in Germany and Rene Tanzler from the Zoological State Collection Munich, Germany.
Evidently, a significant number of native Australian species are limited to the wet tropical forests along northern Queensland’s east coast. The researchers say that these forests have been the source of recent discoveries.
The study, published online in the journal ZooKeys, shows that most of the newly recognised weevil species have been a part of museum collections since the 80s. Unfortunately, there are only few people who are trained and focus on species discovery which have caused decades, even centuries of delay of scientific study and formal naming, German researcher Alexander Riedel lamented.
Nevertheless, old specimens from museums won’t suffice species discovery because scientists have to analyse the newly collected DNA, which requires an immense study of collections. Despite daunting hard work, the researchers were able to discover Trigonopterus garradungensis, a new species named after the place it was found.
The research team speculates that the weevils have been restricted in a single locality due to their winglessness. Additionally, these animals are easily overlooked because these tend to be hidden in leaf litter.
Trigonopterus weevils have originated in Australia, the oldest landmass in the region, the scientists suggest. They say that the island of New Guinea is geologically younger but the genus has diversified into hundreds of species quickly in this area.
The researchers claim that this may have implications in the effects of climate change. The conservation of the species is of utmost importance because of its vulnerability to habitat changes due to climate change or the arrival of invasive species resulting from global warming.