The term biodiversity refers to the extent of variation of biological form that is living forms in terms of flora and fauna within an ecosystem, terrestrial or marine.
Generally speaking, ambient temperature and humidity are conducive to terrestrial biodiversity. If we are in a lookout for an ambient temperature and humidity, it is mainly the equatorial belt at low altitudes that comprises of highest biodiversity on land (Gaston, 2000). Similarly, in case of marine ecosystems, highest biodiversity is found in those oceanic belts which have highest surface temperatures. Accordingly, mid latitudinal region of all the oceans of the world have the highest marine biodiversity, in addition to the Western Pacific, coastal belt, (Tittensor, 2010). As a general trend, areas with warm to hot climates have the highest biodiversity and are hence called the hotspots of biodiversity (Myers, et al., 2000). It is actually the hotspots of biodiversity which are targeted by the nature conservationists for the conservation of biodiversity. Some of the interesting hotspots of terrestrial biodiversity are Amazon rainforests and rainforests of South East Asia. On the contrary, the biodiversity will be very less in the cold tundra regions of the world.
The world is gradually going through a phase of global warming (Hegland, et al., 2009). As a result, the biodiversity is going through a phase of major shuffles and changes. Some of the species are evolving to give rise to newer forms while some of them are becoming extinct. Accordingly, in order to have a maximum focus on biodiversity conservation, exact record of existing biodiversity need to be maintained on a time to time basis. This will facilitate comparison of the respective biodiversity which is recorded at present to the biodiversity which existed in the past, several to few years back. In the present report, we have gathered information, regarding biodiversity, in Hawkesbury Institute of Environment, in University of Western Sydney, Australia. Our report follows a logical sequence of description of geographical distribution of ‘Hawkesbury Institute of Environment’ where the biodiversity studies are carried out followed by a detailed description of flora and fauna and their reasoning to be present in this particular area.
Geographical location and weather of Hawkesbury Institute of Environment, in University of Western Sydney, Australia
The continental country, Australia, located in the Southern hemisphere as has the following latitudes and longitudes.
The main climate zones in Australia are
Geographical location of New South Wales, Australia in which Sydney is located.
The exact location of University of Western Sydney (UWS) is shown as the circle on the map as
The geographical parameters are as following-
Area-Richmond, UWS Hawskesbury
Lattitude-33.62°South, Longitude-150.75° East, Elevation-20m above the mean sea level.
If we see the rainfall distribution of Sydney, this area receives a maximum of rainfall as compared to all other parts of Australia as shown in the map.
With respect to the distribution of temperature, Southern Australia has warmer days, and South Eastern Australia has cooler nights. The temperature distribution of Australia is represented in the map as following.
Furthermore, it is evident from the following map that our area of interest UWV has an extremely high relative humidity (RH) of 90%.
For collection of biodiversity data, we surveyed the area of UWS in groups of 2-5 students. The biodiversity data was collected with regard to various aspects like major species occurring at the site with respect to flora and fauna. Using this data, and the available information about the climate and geographical location of this particular area, we will address the following questions.
- Do species differ according to biomes in this particular site?
- Will influence of habitat complexity or types of vegetation affects the species under the same order?
The data regarding flora and fauna was primarily collected from two types of biomes, namely forests and grasslands.
Different types of fauna recorded in the forests included geckos, various types of ants including most poisonous jack jumper ants, wasps, spiders of several kinds, small flies, mosquitoes and other insects like lacewing, springtails and booklice. Detailed description of the fauna recorded in the forests with their respective counts is as following.
DETAILS OF FAUNA RECORDED IN FORESTS
Common name and general description-Common garden skink, a gecko. Representative picture:
Common name and description -Black Ants, 0.5-1 cm
- Order- Hymenoptera
Common name and description-This is another class of ants called Jack jumper ants. Representative picture:
Poisonous sting of this particular ant species, Myrmecia pilosula, is responsible for considerable cases of anaphylactic shock.
- Order- Hymenoptera
Genus and species-Not known
Common name and description- Black ant, slightly larger than the common house ant. Representative picture of this type of ants is as following.
Other differently identifiable ants, as, large black to large black/red, small brown and red, medium legged ants were recorded. Genus and species unidentifiable. However, all of them belong to the order Hymenoptera and family Formicidae
These are large black, probably predatory ants with long mandibles, red tipped abdomen with slightly protruding stinger and, red tipped legs. Representative picture:
- Some other similar types of 09 ants (order Hymenoptera), unidentifiable genus and species having six legs, large fangs, large head and abdomen, and small thorax were recorded.
- Another group of 12 similar ants (order Hymenoptera), unidentifiable genus and species, and no special features were also recorded.
Two wasps, unidentifiable genus and species, were recorded.
Genus- Hemicloea plumea
One Ground spider, small and brown/black in color. Representative picture
Four common spiders with unidentifiable family, genus and species were also recorded.
One large spider with red body and legs, black abdomen with white dots and black leg tips. Representative picture:
One small black spider with no distinct patterns. Representative picture
One small black spider, unidentifiable genus and species with speckled white spots on the abdomen.
- Order- Arachnid
Three arachnids, unidentifiable genus and species, having eight striped hairy legs Representative picture:
Family, genus and species are not known.
One tiny fly. The representative picture:
One tiny headed mosquito, unidentifiable genus and species, with long legs, long abdomen and large thorax was recorded. Representative picture:
- Order-Trichoptera or Ephemeroptera
One attractive looking Mayfly or caddies fly, compound eyes and two wings. Representative picture:
Two netted winged, Lacewings, unidentifiable genus and species. Representative picture:
Three springtails were also found.
One Garden snail (Helix aspersa). Representative picture:
- Order- Psocoptera
One small larva of Booklice, Bark lice or Barflies was recorded. Representative picture:
DETAILS OF FAUNA RECORDED IN THE GRASSLANDS are as following.
Family- Pisuaridae, Genus and species was not identifiable.
One small, juvenile, brown spider, light brown stripes on down top of head and abdomen. Representative picture:
One brown spider with different shaded brown stripes running along the back and abdomen. Representative picture:
- Order- Coleoptera
Three very small black beetles, unidentifiable genus and species, maybe juvenile or fully grown. Representative picture:
Family, Genus and Species unidentifiable.
Six beetles, mainly with metallic wing coverings, small tube-like mouthparts, and bulky structure. Representative picture:
41 common ants. Representative picture:
Unidentifiable Genus and species Counts-10 (Recorded only by Stream B students) +5 (small black ants, also recorded by stream B students).
Two different species of ants, the larger species having metallic coloration and smaller species with mainly dark brown with black abdomen. Representative picture of Myrmecia ants:
- Order-Orthoptera, Family-Acrididae
One common grassland Australian locust, with brown head, thorax and abdomen with brown, leathery wings, and black hind legs. Representative picture:
One more insect, might be a cricket, grasshopper, locust and allied insect was also identified and recorded.
Two Small black flies, commonly known as comptosia fly with red eyes and one set of membranous wings covered with small hairs. A representative picture of insects from Comptosia family:
One small fly, unidentifiable genus and species. As a detailed description of the fly was not recorded, it is assumed that the insect is a common fly. The representative picture:
27 mosquitoes, unidentifiable genus and species. For a representative picture, we are providing a poster which shows the pictures of different species of mosquitoes found in Australia:
Three moths. Representative picture:
- Order-Entomobryomorpha/ Porduromorpha/Symphyleona
Four Springtails. These organisms are not classified as true insects because they are hexapods. Isotomidae, as recorded by the students is actually the family of such organisms. Moreover, there are three orders under which subclass Colembolla falls. For the representative picture of a springtail, please refer to the FOREST FAUNA section.
Families-Machilidae and Meinertellidae
Unidentifiable family, genus and species.
One Bristletail. These organisms are the group of wingless insects, which have undergone, minimal evolution over a period of time. Such organisms are small long bodied insects. Bodies of bristletails bend in the form of an arch and these insects have long tail like structures, three in number. Also, these insects have flexible antennae and large compound eyes on their head top. Interestingly, bristletails have a smart behavior of using their tails to jump up to a distance of 30 cms into the air. A representative picture:
Order, Class, Family and Genus was not identifiable.
Two Worms like white maggots. This organism was identified as annelida. However, maggots are often larvae of flies which are better classified as arthropods. Representative picture: