Is The Koala Scat Moth a Threatened and Endangered Species ?

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Len Willan
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Location: Como West Sydney Australia
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Is The Koala Scat Moth a Threatened and Endangered Species ?

Post by Len Willan »

Australia is a predominately dry and arid country, depauperate in species and diversity of earthworms.
This niche in Australia, for breaking down the humus and Eucalypt litter, is carried out not by earthworms but by our native Cockroaches (428 species) and Moths. Litter Moths, family Oecophoridae (5550 described species and many more to come) help break up and decompose the humus.

TELANEPSIA stockeri Common & Horak, 1994, a recently described species, has as its larval host the freshly deposited stools of the Koala, the iconic Australian Eucalypt leaf eating Marsupial.

This is not surprising as the “Bush Cigars” ( as Australians call droppings of the unique Koala) predominately contain partly digested Gum leaves.

Australia over the last few decades has experienced many major bush fires. As a consequence of these fires there has been frequent Hazard Reduction Burning of our natural environment. It now looks apparent that both the Koala and the Koala Scat Moth could well become extinct in the near future.

Image
TELANEPSIA stockeri adult voucher specimen
4 frames Zerene Stacker

Image
Most of the other 5550 Litter Moths are extremely colourful even if the life histories except for a few are unknown

The common Wingia hesperidella (Meyrick, 1883) is a splendid example of the diversity of the Litter Moths
Single photo Canon 100mm f16

Image
Koala Scat showing emergence hole of adult Koala Scat Moth TELANEPSIA stockeri

Barry
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Location: Netherlands

Post by Barry »

Wonderful series! And interesting info. How would this occurence of moths in dung be named, biologically? It is not symbiosis, nor inquilinism...
We've been in Australia twice....love the country.
For my taste the pictures would be even better if the labels underneath them would be removed/covered.

Regards,
Barry

Craig Gerard
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Location: Australia

Post by Craig Gerard »

Len,

Nicely documented!

Does a scat have certain, external visible signs that would indicate it has become a larval host?

Found an article at link below which briefly describes the work of Ian Common. (there is a picture of TELANEPSIA stockeri on scat in the document).

http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?act=view_f ... C99p33.pdf

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Len Willan
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Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:52 pm
Location: Como West Sydney Australia
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Post by Len Willan »

Barry asked ”It is not symbiosis, nor inquilinism’’
My feeling is that its scat host is an evolutionary adaptation to a vacant food source that has occurred over a long evolutionary period . One can only postulate this, as there is no fossil evidence to verify this theory.

Craig, the article you mentioned (ECOS Magazine 1999 – issue 99) describing the work of my late friend, Ian Common on Litter moths ,Family Oecophoridae. The article is a very good introduction to this Family, which has attained its greatest diversity in Australia. Oecophoridae is the largest Australian moth family in number of species .Towards the end of that article it is noted that Ian Common and Marianne Horak stated

“One of the Koala Scat feeding species was named in honour of Australia’s Chief Scientist, John Stocker as TELANEPSIA stockeri”
John Stocker then reciprocated in an unusual way:-
Image
The moth TELANEPSIA stockeri is now proudly on the label of one of our fine wines. Of course both versions of Telanepsia are known to raise the enthusiasm of Australian Entomologists

Craig Gerard
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Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 1:51 am
Location: Australia

Post by Craig Gerard »

Len,

Looks like you've been enjoying that wine :)

Do you happen to know, or have reference to the earliest, documented record of Lepidopteran in Australia?

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Len Willan
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Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:52 pm
Location: Como West Sydney Australia
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Post by Len Willan »

Craig asked” Do you happen to know, or have reference to the earliest, documented record of Lepidopteran in Australia?”

A new paper has a comprehensive world list including this Australian Primitive Moth


OXYCANUS Walker, 1855 [extant]
cf. antipoda Herrich-Schäffer, [1853] (Epiolus) [extant]; Keble, 1947: 49 (cf. fuscomaculatus) [fossil].
SI (larva: whole body)/MVVA (2 ex: P16153; P16154)/Australia: Victoria, Pejark Marsh (unconsolidated sedi¬ments)/Late Holocene.

An annotated catalog of fossil and subfossil Lepidoptera (Insecta: Holometabola) of the world

3286

JAE-CHEON SOHN1,2,4, CONRAD LABANDEIRA1,2,
DONALD DAVIS3 & CHARLES MITTER1
1Department of Entomology, 4112 Plant Sciences Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
E-mail: jsohn@umd.edu; cmitter@umd.edu
2Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, 10th & Constitution NW,
Washington, DC 20560, USA. E-mail: LABANDEC@si.edu
3Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, 10th & Constitution NW,
Washington, DC 20560. E-mail: DAVISD@si.edu
4Corresponding author.
Magnolia Press
Auckland, New Zealand

Complete Paper is Here; http://si-pddr.si.edu/jspui/bitstream/1 ... a_2012.pdf

I have an example of an Australian OXYCANUS captured NSW Smiggins Holes Koscuisko NPLat 36, 24,, Long 148,26,,3 April 2009

Here : http://www1.ala.org.au/gallery2/v/Hepia ... ewsIndex=1

Craig Gerard
Posts: 2877
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 1:51 am
Location: Australia

Post by Craig Gerard »

Len,

Thanks for the followup.



Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

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