Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

Patterns and levels of endemism in the Australian Wet Tropics rainforest: evidence from flightless insects

D. K. Yeates, P. Bouchard and G. B. Monteith

Invertebrate Systematics 16(4) 605 - 619
Published: 05 September 2002


This study examines the level and pattern of endemism among 274 flightless rainforest insects found in the Wet Tropics region of Australia. Endemism is measured at two nested scales: (1) those confined to the Wet Tropics, termed 'regional endemics'; and (2) the subset of those species confined to a single subregion of the Wet Tropics, termed 'subregional endemics'. Fifty per cent of the regional endemic flightless insects are also subregional endemics compared with 15% of the known regional endemic vertebrates. The four subregions with the most endemic flightless insect species are the uplands of Mt Finnigan, Carbine, Bellenden-Ker/Bartle Frere and Atherton. Multiple regression suggests that the combination of rainforest area and shape explain the most variance (R2 = 0.603) in the numbers of species of regional endemic insects. However, subregional endemism is not closely correlated with the size or shape of the subregions in which they occur, or a combination of these factors. Candidate refugial and recolonised subregions are identified, and are consistent with data from palaeoclimatic models and refugia identified using other taxa. We group upland subregions into larger areas of endemism using parsimony analysis of endemism. These groupings are consistent with our understanding of the history of the Wet Tropics rainforests.

© CSIRO 2002

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