The Terrestrial Invertebrates are such a large group of organisms that the arachnids (spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites) have traditionally been a separate operational unit at the South Australian Museum. Terrestrial Invertebrates includes the remaining Arthropoda which constitute more than 90% of the known animal kingdom.
The Museum has one of the longest histories of terrestrial invertebrate research in Australian museums, dating back to the early 1900s. Most notable is the work of Herbert Womersley, who published works about a wide range of invertebrate fauna from 1933 to 1962; there are few current taxonomic studies on Collembola (springtails) and Acarology (mites) that do not have some reference to his work. Current research at the South Australian Museum benefits from the extensive terrestrial invertebrates collection but other groups or regions are also a focus.
It has been variously estimated that upwards of 200 scientists around the world are researching specimens from the South Australian Museum at any given time. As well as overseas interest in these collections, the Museum undertakes an extensive research program based on these specimens. Areas of particular research interest to Museum scientists, Honorary Research Associates and associated students and volunteers includes native bees, beetles, ants, robberflies, gall midges, plant feeding bugs, and Collembola (Springtails). The research on these groups covers taxonomic descriptions of new species, ecological studies and species diversity, and evolutionary relationships among species groups that involve both traditional morphological data as well as DNA sequencing technologies.
Associate Professor Mark Stevens, Senior Research Scientist in Terrestrial Invertebrates, has research interests in the systematics and evolutionary relationships of Collembola, native bees and Antarctic terrestrial invertebrates.
Dr Chris Watts, Honorary Research Associate, has special interests in water beetles. Current research involves discovering, naming and classifying different species of marsh beetle living in Australia and to use DNA to match adults to their larvae. Chris’s research continues into the description of new species of the charismatic water beetles found in aquifers under the Western Australian desert and production of a pictorial guide to the carnivorous water beetles of South Australia.