The discovery of a new species of Boronia Moth during the Cooloola BioBlitz brought one of Australia’s leaders in scientific research to Cooloola next Month to follow up the discovery.
In his day job, Prof Doug Hilton AO is Director of the illustrious Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia’s oldest medical research institute but he has a private passion for entomology where he specializes in studying a group of uncommon moths, some of which are crucial for pollinating Boronias.
When he provisionally identified the small moth new to science as a Pseliastis sp. (Heliozelidae) last month Prof Hilton immediately began making arrangements to visit Cooloola to see the newly discovered moth in its habitat. Prof Hilton was in Rainbow Beach from 5th to 7th October and also presented a talk about the significance of the moth and their role in the ecology at the Rainbow Beach Community Hall. This event was sponsored by the Gympie Regional STEM Hub as part of their Science in the Pub, Halls and Cafes program.
Emeritus CSIRO entomologist Dr Don Sands who accompanied Prof Hilton, who collected the first specimen of the new moth species, said that although this moth is only a few millimetres long, it may hold the key to saving threatened Boronias including the Wide Bay Boronia which is endangered because they are not being well pollinated to set viable seed.
Detailed taxonomic examination of 700 spider specimens by one of Australia’s leading spider experts, Robert Whyte, has already revealed 37 new species through one weekend of field collection. Whyte is looking forward to the next BioBlitz proposed to be held in a different season, late Autumn — 17th to 19th May 2019.
Cooloola Coastcare’s Dr Lindy Orwin who is coordinating the opportunity for the public and citizen scientists to learn from the visiting experts with the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation said that the BioBlitz had helped generate an increasing amount of interest in local communities as well as in the scientific community and this was an opportunity to bring both interests together.
“With another BioBlitz on the agenda for next May, we expect both community and scientific interest in understanding more about the rich natural resources of Cooloola to continue, attracting increasing interest around Australia with many more new scientific discoveries likely,” Dr Orwin said.
Also exciting is Robert Whyte’s report on the Cooloola BioBlitz’s Spiders, with indications that it has discovered 37 new species. To download the initial report – please click here Cooloola Spiders, with Robert predicting the final report will be double or triple in size.
Cooloola Bioblitz was an initiative of Fraser Island Defenders Organisation and Cooloola Coastcare