Subject: amphipods
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 11:24:25 +0100

        Amphipods on the Birding-aus list; that is of course a chance i can not
pass over.

        There are c 8000 described species of amphipods in the world; I should
know, as I plan to present a poster on the topic at the crustacean
conference in Glasgow this summer. Not 'tens of thousands', therefore,
although in my opinion less than half of the existing species may yet have
been described.

        Australia has an enormously rich amphipod fauna, compared to most other
countries. there are several reasons for that:
                1. The Indo-Pacific region has a very long history of unbroken 
habitats, very different from e.g. the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the
Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The marine fauna is therefore very rich and
diverse. In addition, Australia stretches from temperate regions to the
tropics, which makes for still larger variety. Fortunately, Australia is
also rich in amphipod workers, and Jim Lowry and his group at the
Australian Museum in Sydney constitute one of the hotspots of amphipod
research in the world nowadays. Also Gary Poore in Melbourne, although
himself primarily an isopod worker, has a number of amphipod students.
                2. There are a large number of probably primitive and ancient 
forms of amphipods in Australia. As the continent got dryer and dryer, many
of these have retreated into the groundwater fauna, where they are only now
are being discovered and described. John Bradbury of Adelaide is the
foremost specialist on these animals and he has already describd tens of
species, with many more to follow.
                3. Australia has a rich fauna of landhoppers, that live in the 
rainforests. John Friend wrote an excellent thesis on these animals some
years ago, and nowadays Alastair Richardson of Tasmania is the foremost
student of the taxonomy and biology of these most fascinating critters.

        More than you ever wanted to know about amphipods, no doubt. But I could
not pass up this rare opportunity.

                                                                        Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway

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