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Rich and Diverse Fauna

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A Rich and Diverse Fauna

The History of the Australian National Insect Collection 1926-1991

MS Upton   Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Entomology

408 pages
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

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This volume is the first comprehensive account of the formation of CSIRO Entomology and the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC) and covers the growth of this national collection over its first 65 years.

In 1927, Robin John Tillyard stated that "the future of Australian entomology depends to a large extent on the gathering together of a really national collection." On taking charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's entomological work in 1928, he set up the Division of Economic Entomology in which he saw the need for 'extensive collections', and the national insect collection was born.

A Rich and Diverse Fauna deals with the difficulties facing the establishment of research in Australia due to the scarcity of adequately trained staff and reveals the problems caused by Tillyard in the early days. Despite these, however, it shows that Tillyard laid the foundations of a Division that has withstood the test of time. He recognised the necessity of combining taxonomy and its associated collections with other entomological disciplines in order to provide a sound base for applied entomological research.

The book covers the building of the first laboratory for CSIRO's Division of Entomology and the recruitment of the taxonomic staff, together with the various early collecting expeditions and surveys. It records the tireless efforts of Bill Brandt collecting in New Guinea and the trials and tribulations confronting the early curators of the collection. It also details some of the major collections acquired or donated to the ANIC, records the major field surveys undertaken by the ANIC staff in the 1970s and covers the involvement of the taxonomists in the dispute over the legislation restricting the export of insect holotypes.

Richly illustrated, the book contains a comprehensive index together with a bibliography of more than 600 references.


Introduction: the Australian National Insect Collection
  1. Prologue - setting the scene: 1915-1927
  2. The Tillyard years - a temperamental decade: 1926-1937
  3. Setting up in Canberra - a new laboratory: 1927-1937
  4. Divisional and staffing matters I: 1928-1945
  5. Taxonomy - the basis of biological research: 1926-1960
  6. Finding the fauna - early Divisional collecting: 1929-1964
  7. 'Bill Brandt' - collecting in Papua New Guinea: 1956-1963
  8. Curatorial challenges - managing the collections: 1928-1974
  9. The nation's heritage - collections are acquired, rejected and stolen
  10. The collection, proposed museums, and surveys - reports, recognition, and reviews
  11. Divisional and staffing matters II: 1946-1991
  12. The search continues - collecting gets serious: 1960-1991
  13. Taxonomy - the research continues: 1961-1991
  14. Accommodating the collection - a building at last: 1964-1991
  15. Scientists divide - disputes over holotypes
  16. Epilogue - looking to the future


 The book will be of interest to both amateur and professional naturalists, and entomologists with an interest in the history of Australian entomology. 

 "There are enough stories of theft, libel and scientific disputes to lay to rest any notion that entomologists are dull."
Land and Water News, February 1998

Related Titles
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