Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

Superfamily BYRRHOIDEA

Byrrhids, Elmids

Compiler and date details

31 December 1999 - Andrew A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


The Byrrhoidea comprises twelve families found worldwide. The group was originally restricted to a single family Byrrhidae (Crowson 1973, 1982) while the remaining families had been placed mostly in the Dryopoidea. The Byrrhidae were united with the Elmidae, Dryopidae, Lutrochidae (as a subfamily of Dryopidae), Limnichidae and Heteroceridae by Lawrence (1988) while the Psephenidae, Cneoglossidae, Ptilodactylidae, Chelonariidae, Eulichadidae and Callirhipidae were placed in the Psephenoidea. In this catalogue the Byrrhoidea contains both the Byrrhoidea (excluding Buprestidae) and Psephenoidea of Lawrence (1988). Previously, the Callirhipidae were placed by Crowson (1973) in the Artematopoidea and the Cneoglossidae in the Cantharoidea (Crowson 1972). Worldwide, 298 genera and 3,261 species of Byrrhoidea are known (Lawrence 1982; recent literature). The Australian fauna of 24 genera and 175 species, represents 8% and 5% of the world's genera and species respectively. The Elmidae, with 104 valid species recorded, is the largest Australian byrrhoid family.

Members of the Byrrhoidea are variable and not easily characterised. In some families, more particularly Elmidae, Psephenidae, Ptilodactylidae, Dryopidae, Lutrochidae, Limnichidae and Eulichadidae, aquatic habits are known with the larvae having evolved many special respiratory adaptations such as anal and abdominal gills, projecting 8th spiracles and plastron plates (Lawrence 1991). Adults of elmine elmids are aquatic and extract oxygen from the water by means of diffusion through a plastron that is confined to the ventral surface and legs (Hinton 1971).

There are no representatives of the families Dryopidae, Lutrochidae, Cneoglossidae or Eulichadidae so far known from Australia. Hinton (1965) revised the Australian species of Austrolimnius Carter & Zeck (Elmidae), the Australian Heteroceridae were revised by Charpentier (1968) who provides a key to the species, Davis (1986) provides a key to the described species of Sclerocyphon Blackburn (Psephenidae) and the Elmidae are currently being revised by Calder. The remaining families have received scant attention recently and modern revisionary work is desperately needed. Lawrence & Britton (1994) provide keys to the families of adults and larvae and Matthews (1985) gives a pictorial key to the families and genera found in South Australia.


The project that culminated in the production of this Catalogue was supported by a grant from the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) and is gratefully acknowledged. I am indebted also to Drs Keith Houston and Alice Wells, scientific editors for their editorial advice. Dr John Lawrence and Tom Weir are thanked for reviewing an earlier draft and providing useful suggestions.

I particularly thank the staff of the CSIRO Black Mountain Library for their help in locating the many obscure references encountered in the compilation of this Catalogue and for their patience in processing innumerable requests for inter-library loans, many from overseas, so that the original bibliographic reference could be verified.

Platypus, the taxonomic-bibliographic software package developed by the Australian Biological Resources Study, was used to compile the database from which the Web files were derived. Neil Fitzsimmons, Interim Technology (formerly CP Consulting) and Steve Shattuck, CSIRO Entomology are particularly thanked for their assistance in the use of Platypus.

The preparation and data entry for this Catalogue was conducted in CSIRO Entomology, Canberra and use of the Organisation's resources and facilities, particularly computing resources, is gratefully acknowledged.

Database Notes

The original orthography of all species names is given in preference to the emended version of those names that have been altered to conform to the rules of classical grammar as required by Article 34.2 (ICZN, 1999). The families are arranged alphabetically and all subfamilies, generic and species names are arranged in alphabetic order within the next highest category. Synonyms are arranged in chronological order. All publications containing the original descriptions of genera and species have been seen. If a publication was not available for personal perusal in Australia, a photocopy of the relevant pages as well as the title page of the volume was obtained from various overseas library sources to verify the bibliographic reference.

The date of publication of several items cited in this work varies from that which is normally given. The following references have been helpful in this regard: Griffin (1932) for the dates of publications and contents of the parts of Westwood's Introduction to the Modern Classification of Insects; Cowan (1971) for the dates of the Guérin-Méneville's Iconographie du Règne Animal de G. Cuvier; and Madge (1988) was used as the source for the publication dates of Dejean's catalogues.

The numbers of genera and species cited are based upon Lawrence (1982) except for the aquatic families that are based on Brown (1981b) and the Zoological Record up to the end of 1999 and other known literature not cited in the Zoological Record.

Limital Area

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


General References

Charpentier, R. 1968. A monograph of the family Heteroceridae (Coleoptera) of the Notogean Region. Arkiv för Zoologi 2 20(11): 205-241

Cowan, C.F. 1971. On Guérin's Iconographie: particularly the insects. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 6(1): 18-29

Crowson, R.A. 1972. A review of the classification of Cantharoidea (Coleoptera), with the definition of two new families, Cneoglossidae and Omethidae. Revista de la Universidad de Madrid 21(82): 35-77

Crowson, R.A. 1973. On a new superfamily Artematopoidea of polyphagan beetles, with the definition of two new fossil genera from the Baltic Amber. Journal of Natural History 7: 225-238

Crowson, R.A. 1982. On the dryopoid affinities of Buprestidae. The Coleopterists Bulletin 36: 22-25

Davis, J.A. 1986. Revision of the Australian Psephenidae (Coleoptera): Systematics, phylogeny and historical biogeography. Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 119: 1-97

Griffin, F.J. 1932. On the dates of publication and contents of the parts of Westwood (J.O.) Introduction ot the modern classification of insects, 1838-1840. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of London 6: 83-84

Hinton, H.E. 1965. A revision of the Australian species of Austrolimnius (Coleoptera: Elmidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 13(1): 97-172

Hinton, H.E. 1971. The Elmidae (Coleoptera) of Trinidad and Tobago. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 26(6): 247-265 pls 1-9

ICZN 1999. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. IV Edition. London : International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature xxix+ 306 pp.

Lawrence, J.F. 1982. Coleoptera. pp. 482-553 in Parker, S.P. (ed.). Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms. New York : McGraw Hill Vol. 2 vii 1232 pp.

Lawrence, J.F. 1988 [1987]. Rhinorhipidae, a new beetle family from Australia, with comments on the phylogeny of the Elateriformia. Invertebrate Taxonomy 2: 1-53 [Date published Oct. 14, 1988]

Lawrence, J.F. 1991. Order Coleoptera. pp. 144-658 in Stehr, F.W. (ed.). Immature Insects. Coleoptera and Diptera. Dubuque, Iowa : Kendall-Hunt Vol. 2 xvi 975 pp.

Lawrence, J.F. & Britton, E.B. 1994. Australian Beetles. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press x 192 pp.

Madge, R.B. 1988. The publication dates of Dejean's catalogues. Archives of Natural History 15(3): 317-321

Matthews, E.G. 1985. A Guide to the Genera of Beetles of South Australia. Part 4. Polyphaga: Byrrhoidea, Buprestoidea, Dryopoidea, Elateroidea, Cantharoidea, Derodontoidea and Bostrichoidea. Adelaide : South Australian Museum 68 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)