Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (Biological Sciences)


School of Natural Sciences


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Annette Koender

Second Advisor

Dr Mark Harvey


Many regions around the world are renowned as biodiversity hotspots. South Western Australia is one of these. A combination of the recognised high biodiversity and a seemingly unbalanced species distribution of the genus Nunciella across Australia initiated the investigation into the diversity of the south western species of Nunciella. Previous descriptions indicate two of the 11 Nunciella species are found in this region, one of these with a very large recorded distribution in contradiction to the short range distribution of all the other species. Through observations of museum specimens it is hypothesised that there is a much larger species diversity to be found in Western Australia. The aim of this project was to determine if there are more species present than currently described. This was done through sequencing the genes cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and histone H3 (H3) combined with morphological analysis. The molecular analysis revealed strong COI support for at least seven Nunciella species in the area. As an unexpected result COI also provides support for a new genus with a further six species. H3 results had low support for species level delimitation though strong support for the two genera. The resulting DNA species are further supported by morphological characters suitable for species delimitation, enabling the identification of a further three morphological species. The holotype of Nunciella aspera (Pocock, 1903) was obtained and redescribed including images. Specimens from the type locality of the second species, N. karriensis Kauri, 1954 have been included in this study as well as observations made on the syntype of a synonymised species N. frontalis Roewer, 1931.It is also revealed that Nunciella species may live sympatrically. A secondary aim was to clarify the misconceptions presented in previous descriptions of N. aspera. A number of authors redescribed N. aspera with varying characters from a number of Western Australian locations. This research has identified support for the authors possibly being correct in their examination, though incorrect in their species diagnosis. In summary, this research provides morphological descriptions for ten new Nunciella species, a redescription of the holotype of the type species of Nunciella, brief analysis of the syntype of the synonymised N. frontalis, cautionary predictions on the status of N. karriensis and molecular and morphological support for a new genus with six species.

Available for download on Saturday, July 18, 2020


Paper Location