Ectyphinae key Lyons and Dikow 2010

Key to species of Ectyphinae (Insecta: Diptera: Mydidae) following taxonomic revision of Ectyphus and Parectyphus by Lyons and Dikow 2010 (doi:

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 22/04/2015 Views: 2357
Key Author(s): Katie Lyons and Torsten Dikow Key Version: 1.0
Key to Families of Freshwater Arachnids (Spiders & Mites) in Australia

The Arachnida belongs to the Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Chelicerata, and is typically placed at the level of Class.  Arachnids are characterised by having 4 pairs of legs as adults and lacking antennae.  Their mouthparts are chelicerae; however, only some arachnids retain the ancestral chelate (pincer-like) form of the chelicerae, while other groups have hook-like or styletiform mouthparts.

There are two major groups of arachnids that have aquatic representatives: the spiders (Order Araneae) and the mites (Subclass Acari).  Species from four families of spiders may be encountered in Australian fresh waters.  Despite being able to survive for some time under water, none of these spiders is truly subaquatic.

The vast majority of aquatic arachnids are mites.  Larval mites are 6-legged and are often morphologically very different from the 8-legged nymphal and adult mites.  This key is designed for identification of post-larval stages; however, it may work for larvae of some groups of mites.  Representatives of four major suborders of mites occurs in fresh water: Mesostigmata, Oribatida, Astigmata and Prostigmata (Walter & Proctor 1999).  The greatest radiation of freshwater mites has been in the prostigmatan group Hydracarina (also called Hydrachnellae, Hydrachnidia, Hydrachnida).  The Hydracarina, commonly called 'water mites', includes more than 5000 named species worldwide.  In Australia there are 413 described species in 89 genera, representing 22 families (Harvey 1998). 

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 08/08/2012 Views: 2357
Key Author(s): CSIRO Entomology Key Version: 1.1
Key to Lamiaceae of Western Australia

This key allows identification of all species of the mint family (Lamiaceae) in Western Australia.


We are grateful to many friends and colleagues working at the WA Herbarium for supplying diverse data, images, maps, ideas, and taxonomic and computing expertise that have made the development of this data set possible. In particular we wish to thank Rob Davis for photos and taxonomic help,  Mike Hislop, Steve Dillon, and Margaret Langley for their help with taxonomic queries. We note that the photographic species images available here come from the WA Herbarium’s online plant information system, FloraBase, and represent the work of a team of dedicated volunteers. The maps, also part of FloraBase, represent specimens held at the WA Herbarium.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 21/03/2016 Views: 2348
Key Author(s): Chris Hollister and Kevin Thiele Key Publisher: Department of Environment and Conservation WA Key Version: 1.0
Queensland Pasture Selection Tool

A pasture selection tool.

Posted By: Mr. Stuart Brown Last Updated: 10/11/2008 Views: 2339
Key Author(s): Stuart Brown Key Publisher: CSIRO Key Version: 1.0
Key to Families of Australian Aquatic Plecoptera Larvae

This is a small order of aquatic insects comprising about 2000 species worldwide.  There are 15 recognised families but only four occur in Australia.  Of the 26 Australian genera 24 are endemic and 2 are shared with New Zealand, but at species level all 196 Australian species are endemic.  Stoneflies occur in eastern Australia from Tasmania to Cape York, and in South Australia and southern Western Australia, but not in central or north-western parts of the country.

Adult stoneflies are soft-bodied insects with long antennae, a moderately wide head, three free thoracic segments, and a cylindrical, parallel-sided abdomen terminating in two prominent cerci (and, in males, varied copulatory apparatus).  Typical adult stoneflies have two pairs of membranous wings each with numerous crossveins, the hindwing broader than the fore, but in some species the wings are reduced and in others they are altogether absent.

This key deals only with the larvae, and of all the keys in this series, is the simplest and least demanding.  Identification of larval stoneflies to family level can be based entirely on the configuration of the abdominal gills.  Eustheniidae carry lateral gills on abdominal segments 1-5 or 1-6.  Gripopterygidae carry a tuft of fine gill filaments on the terminal segment.  Austroperlidae carry 3-5 fingerlike gills on the terminal segment, with further fingerlike gills on the cerci or anal plate in some species.  Notonemouridae have no external gills at all.  Additional characters assist in identifying specimens to family when the gills are small and hidden under sternite 10.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 09/08/2012 Views: 2330
Key Author(s): CSIRO Entomology Key Version: 1.1
Key to Orders of Trichomycetes

Trichomycetes are a cosmopolitan group of fungi and protists that grow obligately in the guts of insects, crustaceans, and millipedes that live in freshwater, marine, or terrestrial habitats. The taxonomy of these organisms is based primarily on morphology of the vegetative thallus; spore type and dimensions; host; and habitat.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 27/07/2016 Views: 2310
Key Author(s): R.W. Lichtwardt, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS USA and D.B. Strongman, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax NS Canada Key Version: 1.0
Key to Families of Australian Aquatic Crustacea

This key attempts to cover all families of Crustacea known to occur in Australian inland waters, fresh or salt, permanent or temporary, running or still.

The first two characters enable a quick assignment to subclass or order. Use these when the higher-level taxon is determinable at a glance.

The next 13 characters together have much the same effect as character 1 or character  2 although the division of the taxa may not exactly follow conventional subclass/order boundaries. Use these characters to narrow the possibilities by summarising the individual features of a specimen when the higher-level taxon is not clear.

The remaining characters (37 in all) in effect form eight separate "sub-keys", one to each subclass or order for which more than one family is present in Australian inland waters. These sub-keys are listed in conventional museum-drawer order from Anostraca to Decapoda, except that for convenience the two classes with bivalved carapace (Conchostraca, Ostracoda) are dealt with together. The selection of any character-state from a sub-key will cause all other subclasses/orders to be eliminated. Hence this action, too, is like making a selection from character 1.

Throughout the key we have tried to avoid using characters which are difficult to see, which require dissection, or which depend on the specimen being fully adult or of one particular sex. Dichotomous, printed keys often offer a hierarchic identification process in which successive steps represent identification to class, order, suborder, and superfamily level. A difficulty with such keys is that the characters which indicate a higher-taxon may be less immediately obvious than those which indicate a lower ranking. For example, some superfamily may be recognised by a character of the mandibular palp but the local genus may have unique, bright green antennae.Faced with situations of that sort, we have opted to mention the antennae and ignore the palps. The result is a key which should work rather readily for the known fauna, but undescribed and unrecorded species may or may not key out as well as they would in a conventional key. Further, the information content of the key in some instances will not suffice for a family or superfamily synopsis.

In other words, this key is designed for putting a name on a specimen. We have been less concerned with describing (or redescribing) higher taxa, with summarising the hierarchy of names, or with providing taxonomists with clues to where a new species might be put.

Without a thorough first-hand knowledge of every species in every sub-group of the Crustacea (an impossible requirement even for the specialist), a key such as this must rely largely on published descriptions, revisions, and previous keys. Very often,  important data which would allow the easy identification of specimens are missing from such sources (taxonomists tend to write in terms of the taxonomic hierarchy). Thus, there are some places at which unnecessarily obscure characters had to been used, simply for lack of knowledge. Hopefully, the number of these instances will be reduced in later editions.

We thank the compilers of earlier keys, describers and revisors of taxon groups, for the provision of information on which this key has been based. Acknowledgement for the use of images is shown o the face of the relevant image.

Please note:

1. Many juveniles of aquatic Crustacea simply cannot be identified to family. For those the key should produce a correct but incomplete result.

2. New species may key correctly, incorrectly, partially, or not at all. That is in the nature of being new.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 08/08/2012 Views: 2307
Key Author(s): CSIRO Entomology Key Version: 1.1
Key to Families of Australian Aquatic Molluscs


This large phylum is divided into several classes of which only the Bivalvia (bivalved molluscs) and Gastropoda (snails and slugs) are found in inland waters.


Bivalved molluscs occur commonly in marine and estuarine environments.  Four families are known from Australian inland waters.  Identification to Bivalvia is relatively easy based on the bi-valved shell which covers the whole body, but care should be taken, especially with small specimens, to check the animal is not a crustacean of class Conchostraca (clam shrimp) Ostracoda (mussel-shrimp or seed-shrimp), or Cladocera (water flea).  These animals have a bi-valved carapace and may superficially resemble bivalved molluscs, but within the carapace is a shrimp-like body with several pairs of jointed legs.

The four freshwater bivalve families are:

1 Hyriidae (Freshwater mussels)

A family restricted to South America and Australasia.  Found throughout mainland Australia and central-north Tasmania, absent from southern Tasmania.  Some species are endemic to particular catchments whilst others are cosmopolitan.  The first larval stage is the minute, bivalved glochidium, ectoparasitic on the gills, fins, or general body surface of various fish.

2 Corbiculidae (Orb-shell mussels)

Found in Asia, Australia and Oceania, with isolated introductions in other parts of the world.  A tropical to subtropical group.  There are two distinct species groups in Australia.  The first (genera Batissa and Polymesoda) inhabit fresh and estuarine coastal streams of northern Australia, and are closely related to forms found in south-east Asia.  The second (genus Corbicula, endemic subgenus Corbiculina) are found throughout Australia except for Tasmania and the southern part of Western Australia.

3 Sphaeriidae (Pea shell mussels, pea shells, fingernail clams)

A little studied but cosmopolitan family of small bivalves.  Previously, many names were based on minute differences in the shell and on geographic distribution.  Some species are widespread throughout Australia but others are confined to small regions or in some cases to a single body of water.

4 Mytilidae (Mussels)

The cosmopolitan family which includes the marine mussels.  Several species are estuarine and some may be found in near-fresh water, but never entirely away from marine influence.

Identification to family can be based on the shell.  The Hydriidae and Mytilidae are elongate mussels with the beak of the shell at one end.  Corbiculidae and Sphaeriidae are sub-circular.  Hydriid larvae (glochidium larvae), parasitic on freshwater fish, are keyed separately in this key.


The aquatic gastropod families divide into two subclasses, the gill-breathing Prosobranchia are related to marine snails, the lung-breathing (or secondarily gilled) Pulmonata are related to land snails.  Eleven prosobranch families and nine pulmonate families are recorded from Australian inland waters.

Almost all species are shelled and recognisably snail-like, but one family (Onchidiidae) of marine, air-breathing slugs extends into estuaries and damp terrestrial situations near the sea.

Identification to class Gastropoda is relatively easy based on the snail-like shell and/or the presence of a pulmonate lung in the mantle cavity.  Larvae of Helicopsychidae, a family of caddis-fly (Insecta: Trichoptera) construct a helical case which resembles a snail shell, and could be mistaken for molluscs.  The trichopteran case is composed of sand grains and the animal inside is a typical insect larva with segmented body and three pairs of legs.

The identification of gastropods to family level can be difficult because the families are defined on internal anatomical structures.  There are few readily observable characters, other than those of the shell, but shells vary as much within as between families.  Adult whole animals can be identified using a combination of shell (and operculum) plus external body characters, but juveniles and shells alone are not always identifiable to the family level.

Character systems useful for identifying gastropod families include:

1   Shell coiling (dextral, sinistral, flat, or not-coiled)

2   Operculum presence/absence

3   Shell shape (spired, globose, turbinate, etc.) and spire height

4   Shell patterning (ridges, striations, colour patterns, etc.)

5   Tentacle and eye position

Some species will key easily to family level, but others may be difficult.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 08/08/2012 Views: 2247
Key Author(s): CSIRO Entomology Key Version: 1.1
Key to Families of Australian Aquatic Ephemeroptera Larvae

An order of palaeopterous insects.  Nymphs of all species are aquatic, and occur in relatively unpolluted, standing and running freshwaters.  The adults are short-lived ( a few minutes to several days), take no food, and do not move far from water.  Adults are unique amongst living insects in undergoing a final moult (subimago to imago) after the wings become functional.  The name Ephemeroptera refers to the short lifespan of the adult.

There are 23 recognised families in the order but only 9 families (84 described species) occur in Australia.  This key covers only nymphs and only the Australian taxa.

Identification of later-instar nymphs to family level should be relatively straightforward based on external morphological characters.  Younger instars cannot always be allocated reliably to family.

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 08/08/2012 Views: 2222
Key Author(s): CSIRO Entomology Key Version: 1.1
Key to Reticulitermes spp. of Georgia

 Identify the all endemic species of Reticulitermes spp. found in Georgia, USA

Posted By: Site Admin Last Updated: 10/01/2012 Views: 2222
Key Author(s): Su Yee Key Version: 1.0
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