Cooloola BioBlitz news

Scientists to follow up Cooloola BioBlitz moth and spider discoveries

The discovery of a new species of Boronia Moth during last month’s Cooloola BioBlitz will bring 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 will be in Rainbow Beach from 5th to 7th October and will present a talk about the significance of the moth their role in the ecology to an audience at 7pm at the Rainbow Beach Community Hall. This event is 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 will be accompanying 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

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 help 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 the both the 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.

More information - Mini Moth Blitz Field Work

More information - Science in the Hall presentation information

Maria Miller snapped the action

Dr John Sinclair (FIDO) and Zela Bissett, passionate Sci-Artist and BioBlitz volunteer

Dr Don Sands and BioBlitz citizen scientists

Roy Sonnenburg

Birds Team Leader