Tuesday, 13 September 2016

New species of weta drumming in the jungle

September 1, 2016

Three new species of ground wētā and mating calls have been identified by Massey University researchers.

Research by doctoral student Briar Taylor-Smith and her supervisors Professor Steven Trewick and Associate Professor Mary Morgan-Richard of the Massey Ecology Group have reported three new ground wētā species in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology.

Two new species of ground wētā, which were previously classified as Hemiandrus maculifrons, have now been named Hemiandrus luna and Hemiandru brucei. A third species, related to the other two, has been named Hemiandrus nox.

Hemiandrus luna and Hemiandrus nox were named after Roman goddesses and Hemiandru brucei (Bruce's wētā) is named for Taylor-Smith's grandfather and mentor.

Ground wētā are found in native forest throughout the North and South Islands, as well as on numerous offshore islands. Most species of ground wētā have restricted ranges but the three new species are found on both main islands.

Professor Trewick of the Institute of Agriculture and Environment says many species of wētā are abundant in New Zealand forests and other habitats, but a lot of these have yet to be described.

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