, Volume 693, Issue 1, pp 55–70 | Cite as

The Australian monsoon tropics as a barrier for exchange of dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata) between New Guinea and Australia

Primary Research Paper


Recent studies show a remarkable scarcity of faunal exchange events between Australia and New Guinea in the Pleistocene despite the presence of a broad land connection for long periods. This is attributed to unfavourable conditions in the connecting area associated with the long established northern Australian Monsoon Climate. This would be expected to have impacted strongly on freshwater faunas with the following results: (1) limited overlap in species, (2) most higher taxonomic groups present in both areas sharing no species or even genera and (3) shared species dominated by lentic species with high dispersal capacity. Testing these predictions for dragonflies showed the turnover in the family, genus and species composition between Australia and New Guinea to be higher than anywhere in the world with only 50% of families and subfamilies, 33% of the genera and 8% of the species being shared. Only one of the 53 shared species favors lotic waters compared with 64% of the 652 combined Australian–New Guinean species. These results agree with our predictions and indicate that the dragonfly fauna of Australia and New Guinea have effectively been separated during the Pleistocene probably due to the prolonged unfavourable climatic conditions in the intervening areas.


Aquatic Australia Biogeography Dragonfly Monsoon New Guinea Odonata 


  1. Allen, G. R. & D. F. Hoese, 1980. A collection of fishes from Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 63: 53–61.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, N., M. de Bruyn & P. B. Mather, 2008. Patterns of molecular diversity in wild stocks of the redclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) from northern Australia and Papua New Guinea: impacts of Plio-Pleistocene landscape evolution. Freshwater Biology 53: 1592–1605.Google Scholar
  3. Balke, M., J. Pons, I. Ribera, K. Sagata & A. P. Vogler, 2007. Infrequent and unidirectional colonization of hyperdiverse Papuadytes diving beetles in New Caledonia and New Guinea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42: 505–516.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowe, M., N. Stronach & R. Bartolo, 2007. Grassland and savanna ecosystems of the Trans-Fly, Southern Papua. In Marshall, A. J. & B. Beehler (eds), The Ecology of Papua. The Ecology of Indonesia Series, Vol. VI. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong: 207–245.Google Scholar
  5. Bowman, D. M. J. S., G. K. Brown, M. F. Braby, J. R. Brown, L. G. Cook, M. D. Crisp, F. Ford, S. Haberle, J. Hughes, Y. Isagi, L. Joseph, J. McBride, G. Nelson & P. Y. Ladiges, 2010. Biogeography of the Australian monsoon tropics. Journal of Biogeography 37: 201–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bybee, S. M., T. H. Ogden, M. A. Branham & M. F. Whiting, 2008. Molecules, morphology and fossils: a comprehensive approach to odonate phylogeny and the evolution of the odonate wing. Cladistics 24: 477–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carle, F. L., 1995. Evolution, taxonomy, and biogeography of ancient Gondwanian libelluloides, with comments on anisopteroid evolution and phylogenetic systematic (Anisoptera: Libelluloidea). Odonatologica 24: 383–424.Google Scholar
  8. Carle, F. L., K. M. Kjer & M. L. May, 2008. Evolution of Odonata with special reference to Coenagrionoidea (Zygoptera). Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny 66: 37–44.Google Scholar
  9. Cook, B. D. & J. M. Hughes, 2010. Historical population connectivity and fragmentation in a tropical freshwater fish with a disjunct distribution (pennyfish, Denariusa bandata). Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29: 1119–1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davies D. A. L. & P. Tobin, 1985. The Dragonflies of the World: A Systematic List of the Extant Species of Odonata. Vol. 2. Anisoptera. Societas Internationalis Odonatologica, Utrecht.Google Scholar
  11. De Bruyn, M. & P. B. Mather, 2007. Molecular signatures of Pleistocene sea-level changes that affected connectivity among freshwater shrimp in Indo-Australian waters. Molecular Ecology 16: 4295–4307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Bruyn, M., J. C. Wilson & P. B. Mather, 2004. Reconciling geography and genealogy: phylogeography of giant freshwater prawns from Lake Carpentaria region. Molecular Ecology 13: 3515–3526.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dumont, H. J., J. R. Vanfleteren, J. F. De Jonckheere & P. H. H. Weekers, 2005. Phylogenetic relationships, divergence time estimation, and global biogeographic patterns of Calopterygoid damselflies (Odonata: Zygoptera) inferred from ribosomal DNA sequences. Systematic Biology 54: 347–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dumont, H. J., A. Vierstraete & J. R. Vanvleteren, 2010. A molecular phylogeny of the Odonata (Insecta). Systematic Entomology 35: 6–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fleck, G., B. Ulrich, M. Brenk, C. Wallnisch, M. Orland, S. Bleidissel & B. Misof, 2008. A phylogeny of anisopterous dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata) using mtRNA genes and mixed nucleotide/doublet models. Journal of Zoology, Systematics and Evolution Research 46: 310–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garrison, R. W., N. Von Ellenrieder & M. F. O’Brien, 2003. An annotated list of the name-bearing types of the species-group names in Odonata preserved in the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Occasional papers of the Museum of Zoology University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 736: 1–73.Google Scholar
  17. Garrison, R. W., N. Von Ellenrieder & J. A. Louton, 2006. Dragonfly Genera of the New World. An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  18. Gassmann, D., 2005. The phylogeny of Southeast Asian and Indo-Pacific Calicnemiinea (Odonata, Platycnemididae). Bonner Zoologische Beiträge 53(2004): 37–80.Google Scholar
  19. Grimaldi, D. & M. S. Engel, 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University press, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Hope, G. S., 2007. Paleoecology and paleoenvironments of Papua. The ecology of Papua, The ecology of Indonesia series, Vol. VI. In Marshall, A. J. & B. Beehler (eds), The Ecology of Papua. The Ecology of Indonesia Series VI. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong: 255–266.Google Scholar
  21. Kalkman, V. J., V. Clausnitzer, K.-D. B. Dijkstra, A. G. Orr, D. R. Paulson & J. van Tol, 2008. Global diversity of dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595: 351–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kalkman, V. J., C. Y. Choong, A. G. Orr & K. Schütte, 2010. Remarks on the taxonomy of Megapodagrionidae with emphasis on the larval gills (Odonata). International Journal of Odonatology 13: 119–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lieftinck, M. A., 1949. The dragonflies (Odonata) of New Guinea and neighbouring islands. Part VII. Results of the Third Archbold expedition 1938–1939 and of the Le Roux Expedition 1939 to Netherlands New Guinea (II. Zygoptera). Nova Guinea (N.S.) 5: 1–271.Google Scholar
  24. Macqueen, P., J. M. Seddon, J. J. Austin, S. Hamilton & A. W. Goldizen, 2010. Phylogenetics of the pademelons (Macropodidae: Thylogale) and historical biogeography of the Australo-Papuan region. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 1134–1148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McGuigan, K., D. Zhu, G. R. Allen & C. Moritz, 2000. Phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography of melanotaeniid fishes in Australia and New Guinea. Marine and Freshwater Research 51: 713–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Orr, A. G. & M. Hämäläinen, 2007. The Metalwing Demoiselles (Neurobasis and Matronoides) of the Eastern Tropics: Their Identification and Biology. Natural History Publications, Borneo.Google Scholar
  27. Pessacq, P., 2008. Phylogeny of Neotropical Protoneuridae (Odonata: Zygoptera) and a preliminary study of their relationship with related families. Systematic Entomology 33: 511–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters, G. & G. Theischinger, 2007. Die gondwanischen Aeshniden Australiens (Odonata: Telephlebiidae und Brachytronidae). Denisia 20, zugleich Katalog der oberösterreichischen Landesmuseen, N.S. 66: 517–574.Google Scholar
  29. Polhemus, D. A., 2007. Tectonic geology of Papua. In Marshall, A. J. & B. M. Beehler (eds), The Ecology of Papua. The Ecology of Indonesia Series VI. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong: 137–164.Google Scholar
  30. Polhemus, D. A. & G. R. Allen, 2007. Freshwater biogeography of Papua. In Marshall, A. J. & B. M. Beehler (eds), The Ecology of Papua. The Ecology of Indonesia Series, Vol. VI. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong: 207–245.Google Scholar
  31. Reeves, J. M., A. R. Chivas, A. Garcia & P. de Dekker, 2007. Palaeoenvironmental change in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Australia) since the last interglacial based on Ostracoda. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 246: 163–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Theischinger, G. & I. Endersby, 2009. Identification Guide to the Australian Odonata. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, New South Wales.Google Scholar
  33. Theischinger, G. & J. Hawking, 2006. The Complete Guide to Dragonflies of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.Google Scholar
  34. Theischinger, G. & J. A. L. Watson, 1984. Larvae of Australian Gomphomacromiinae, and their bearing on the status of the Synthemis group of genera (Odonata: Corduliidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 32: 67–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Unmack, P. J., 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053–1089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Van Tol, J. & D. Gassmann, 2007. Zoogeography of freshwater invertebrates of Southeast Asia, with special reference to Odonata. In Renema, W. (ed.), Biogeography, Time, and Place: Distributions, Barriers, and Islands. Springer, Dordrecht: 45–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Van Tol, J., B. T. Reijnen & H. A. Thomassen, 2009. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Platystictidae (Odonata). Ph.D. thesis, University of Leiden, Leiden.Google Scholar
  38. Von Ellenrieder, N., 2002. A phylogenetic analysis of the extant Aeshnidae (Odonata: Anisoptera). Systematic Entomology (London) 27: 1–31.Google Scholar
  39. Von Ellenrieder, N., 2005. Taxonomy of the South American genus Phyllopetalia (Odonata: Austropetaliidae). International Journal of Odonatology 8: 311–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Von Ellenrieder, N. & R. W. Garrison, 2004. A synopsis of the South American genus Gomphomacromia (Odonata: Gomphomacromiinae). International Journal of Odonatology 8: 81–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Voris, H. K., 2000. Maps of Pleistocene sea levels in Southeast Asia: shorelines, river systems and time durations. Journal of Biogeography 27: 1153–1167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ware, J., M. May & K. Kjer, 2007. Phylogeny of the higher Libelluloidae (Anisoptera: Odonata): An exploration of the most speciose superfamily of dragofnlies. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 45: 289–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ware, J. L., J. P. Simaika & M. J. Samways, 2009. Biogeography and divergence time estimation of the relict Cape dragonfly genus Syncordulia: global significance and implications for conservation. Zootaxa 2216: 22–36.Google Scholar
  44. Watson, J. A. L., 1981. Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). In Keast, A. (ed.), Ecological Biogeography of Australia. Junk, The Hague: 1141–1167.Google Scholar
  45. Watson, J. A. L., 1991. The Australian Gomphidae (Odonata). Invertebrate Taxonomy 5: 289–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Watson, J. A. L. & A. L. Dyce, 1978. The larval habitat of Podopteryx selysi (Odonata: Megapodagrionidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 17: 361–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Watson, J. A. L. & A. F. O’Farrell, 1985. The affinities of the Australian Gomphidae (Odonata). Australian Journal of Zoology 33: 499–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Watson, J. A. L., G. Theischinger & H. M. Abbey, 1991. The Australian Dragonflies. CSIRO, Canberra.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NCB NaturalisLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Griffith School of the EnvironmentGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

Personalised recommendations