November 22, 2018

Primary Tassie Objective Achieved

The main reason for visiting Tasmania at this time of year (early) was in the hope of photographing a rare endemic Archipetalia auriculata (Tasmanian Redspot). With only about ten public records available I thought it was never going to be easy. I thought they might like cascading waterfalls, like their closest relatives Austropetalia tonyana from Victoria. However a recent sighting in the south of the state by Elaine McDonald changed my mind as she found them near montane trickles in the Hartz Mountains. With this in mind my plan was to explore Cradle Mountain near some historic records and then the buttongrass plains near Savage River where I had found the uncommon Synthemiopsis gomphomacromioides (Tasmanian Spotwing) in February 2017. And I only had two days as the weather was going to turn Tasmanian.

Day One in Cradle Mountain provided fine weather but very few insects (and no dragonflies at all). Day Two still had fine weather but it was very windy (i.e. average for Tasmania's north-west). I started checking some of the swampy areas where I had found Synthemiopsis gomphomacromioides but without success until I visited a trickle flowing from a boggy flat. That's where I found Archipetalia auriculata! At first I thought I had even photographed a female (there are no in situ photos of females) but it turns out their anal appendages are not very significant — doesn't seem to bother them though. :) At this first site there were two males and then a little down the road I photographed another male. I'm thinking perhaps it was too late already for the females (the family all emerge early in the season, typically during October).

So now I will search some more for females when the weather gets better but its unlikely I will even get to the Hartz Mountains (I no longer need to) as there won't be enough fine days left during this trip.

Posted on November 22, 2018 04:14 AM by reiner reiner | 2 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

July 10, 2018

Unknown But Identifiable Fungi

This is a quick list (mainly for me) of identifiable fungi that I come across but that haven't been identified (possibly because they haven't been described yet).
Yellow cup with wavy edge and dark stipe growing on dead Nothofagus branches.
Small (~5mm long), simple, furry white clubs growing on wood or fern.
Pale orange, stalked discs on hardwood on wet forests.
Beige cup with hairy outside.
White jelly cup.
Stalked yellow fringed cup. Same as in Bruce Fuhrer's Field Guide but incorrectly attributed Cyathicula dicksonioae/Hispidula dicksoniae.
Small brown cup with fuzzy exterior on Eucalyptus wood.
Small white cup with dark olive/black outside on wood.
Pinkish mushroom on trunks of Dicksonia antarctica. Moderately common.
Posted on July 10, 2018 11:24 AM by reiner reiner | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 07, 2018

Fungus Unknown to Science — RRfu2

Field names are used by some for referring to identifiable species for which a scientific name is not known. As part of numerous fungi forays with the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria we have been doing so for many years. One such species occasionally found by the group was recorded as Mycena 'tiny blue lights'. We found it on the dead rachises of soft tree-ferns and having a reusable name for it allowed us to know what we're talking about and be able to reference previous sightings. Turns out that this tiny mushroom is more widespread than we knew and in 2016 it was described as Mycena lazulina from Japan!

The point is some unnamed fungi are readily recognizable — such is the case with this species. Although it may not have a name it is a yellow disc fungus (to 5mm diameter) fringed with wavy serrations and with a short, dark stipe. It is usually gregarious (sometimes solitary) and so far has only been found growing on dead branches and twigs of Nothofagus cunninghamii.

In the last couple of years I have been tagging unknown but identifiable fungi with RR (my initials), fu (for fungi — not what you were thinking) and a number. RRfu1 turned out to be Cudoniella clavus, previously unknown for Australia. I found pictures of these online while trying to identify another fungus and, once they were confirmed, was able to update my old records.

I recorded these yellow discs for the first time in 2014 and have since tagged them with "RRfu2". They appear to belong to the Helotiales order of fungi, possibly in the Helotiaceae family. As I appear to be the only one to find and photograph them they don't have a field name but 'yellow beech discs' springs to mind. They are uncommon but certainly not rare (I'm surprised nobody else has recorded them before) — I tend to find them at least a couple of times each year (actually 6 times so far this year).

RRfu2 tagged records on iNaturalist
my Unknown But Identifiable Fungi

Posted on July 07, 2018 01:01 AM by reiner reiner | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 25, 2018

Micraspis flavovittata - Not Quite Extinct

Micraspis flavovittata is a rare Australian ladybeetle similar in size and appearance to its common sibling species Micraspis frenata. Throughout history it has only been observed or collected a very few times but in recent years a population was rediscovered where these beetles were observed over three consecutive springs (from 2015–2017).

With only a small known population in one fairly small location (although protected within a National Park) this little beetle would warrant top level protection as Critically Endangered if only we new more about it. Unfortunately it is so rare that we haven't collected enough information about it to allow it to be categorized at all (apart from "Data Deficient").

Earlier I was hoping to start formally surveying it from this spring but am currently unable to do so. Plus, without the right training or experience in such surveys I would have to scratch my noggin pretty hard and do more research. Perhaps one day someone will look into this and eventually it will get protection better than EX (extinct), which I fear may happen with habitat changes and a potential catastrophe (a small wildfire could easily extinguish their lives forever).

Although I have kept my eyes pealed for this beetle in my subsequent travels, including searching potential habitat elsewhere (such as in the western Grampians) I have been unable to find more of these insects. I haven't search the extreme east and west of the swamp in which they are known to reside so their range may exceed the currently known 4km by a few more kilometres. Hopefully one day someone will find more elsewhere and all will be good in the world.

Little is known about the life-cycle and food of Micraspis flavovittata, suffice to say adults feed on pollen in whole or as a significant proportion of their diet (much like Micraspis furcifera). I have observed the larva appearing to feed on parts of decaying plants, although this would require further study to verify.

Micraspis flavovittata on iNaturalist
Micraspis frenata on iNaturalist
Micraspis furcifera on iNaturalist
Micraspis flavovittata on ALA

This is my first journal entry on iNat - be nice to me. :)
Posted on June 25, 2018 01:24 PM by reiner reiner | 1 comments | Leave a comment