Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Compiler and date details

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


The Clambidae is a small family of 5 genera and about 144 species worldwide which has been revised by Endrödy-Younga in a series of papers (1959, 1960a, 1960b, 1961a, 1961b, 1961c, 1965, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1990). These beetles are very rounded and convex with a characteristic ability to roll their bodies into a globose shape by reflexing the head and prothorax against the underside of their bodies. The family was previously associated with Leiodidae in the Staphylinoidea until Crowson (1960, 1979) pointed out the non-staphylinoid characters of clambids and united them with Eucinetidae and Helodidae (=Scirtidae) in a superfamily Eucinetoidea (Scirtoidea is an earlier available name for the superfamily). The Australian fauna consists of 3 genera and 21 described species. Crowson (1979) divided the family into three subfamilies: the monotypic Acalyptomerinae, with a widespread species in warmer regions not yet recorded from Australia; Calyptomerinae with two species in central and southern Europe of which one species appears to have been introduced into both South Africa and Australia; and Clambinae with the three genera Loricaster Mulsant & Rey, Clambus Fischer von Waldheim and Sphaerothorax Endrödy-Younga. In the Australian fauna Clambus is represented by 13 species while Sphaerothorax contains 7 species.

The first Australian species were described by Blackburn (1902, 1903) who described 4 species and Lea (1910) who described a species thought to be an ant inquiline. Lea (1912) reviewed the Australian species describing 5 new species of which one is synonymous with the European Calyptomerus dubius (Marsham) and another two with Blackburn species. Endödy-Younga (1974) reviewed the Australian and New Zealand faunas noting six species in the Australian fauna and later completely revising the Australian fauna (Endödy-Younga 1990) describing three new species in Sphaerothorax and nine in Clambus bringing the total for the Australian fauna to 21 species.

Clambids are found in decaying vegetation such as leaf litter, grass and manure heaps, silage, rotting hay, haystack bottoms and flood refuse, in moss and on damp twigs (Johnson 1966). Both adults and larvae feed on hyphae and spores of moulds (Crowson & Crowson 1955).



Adult clambids are small species not exceeding 1.8 mm and can be recognised by the combination of excavate hind coxae forming a large, broad femoral plate that covers the retracted hind leg, and a body that can be rolled up into a ball in all Australian genera. The head is broad and strongly concave beneath. The antennae have 8- to 10-segments and have a 2-segmented club. The frontoclypeal region is ridged and conceals the mouthparts and often divides the eyes. The procoxae are projecting and transverse with exposed trochantins and the procoxal cavities are open behind both internally and externally. The prosternal process is not received in the mesosternum and the metasternum is without a transverse suture. The metendosternite is of the helodid-type. The elytra completely cover the abdomen and are never striate. The venation of the hindwing is reduced and has a marginal fringe of setae. The tarsi are 3- or 4-segmented and not lobed beneath. The abdomen has 5 or 6 visible sternites with functional spiracles on segments 1-5 and sometimes 8. The aedeagus is of the trilobe type with a distinct basal piece (Crowson 1979; Endrödy-Younga 1990; Johnson 1966).

Clambid larvae are similar to eucinetid larvae and are cylindrical to fusiform in shape, with a plagiognathous head with 0, 5 or 6 stemmata each side and without urogomphi. The frontoclypeal suture is absent. The labrum is free and the antennae usually have a very long third segment. The mandibles have a mola and an articulated prostheca while the maxillae are sometimes divided into a distinct galea and lacinia. The spiracles are annular (Lawrence 1982; Lawrence & Britton 1994).


General References

Blackburn, T. 1902. Further notes on Australian Coleoptera with descriptions of new genera and species. Part XXXI. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 26: 288-321

Blackburn, T. 1903. Further notes on Australian Coleoptera, with descriptions of new genera and species. Part XXXII. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 27: 91-182

Crowson, R.A. 1960. The phylogeny of the Coleoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 5: 111-134

Crowson, R.A. 1979. Observations on Clambidae (Coleoptera), with descriptions of a new genus and species and of several larvae. Revue Suisse de Zoologie 86(3): 611-623

Crowson, R.A. & Crowson, E.A. 1955. Some observations on beetles of the family Clambidae. The Glasgow Naturalist 17(4): 205-206

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1959. Systematischer Überblick über die Familie Clambidae (Col.). Opuscula Entomologica. Lund 24: 81-116

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1960a. Monographie der Paläarktischen Arten der Gattung Clambus (Col. Clambidae). Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae 6: 257-303

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1960b. Neue Angaben zur Klärung des Systems der Familie Clambidae under Beschreibung einer neuen Liodiden-Gattung (Coleoptera). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Zoologica) 52: 239-245

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1961a. Revision der Gattung Calyptomerus Redtb. (Col. Clambidae). Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungariae 7: 401-412

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1961b. Eine neue Clambus-Art aus Südamerika (Col. Clambidae). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Zoologica) 54: 325-326

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1961c. Revision der aethiopischen Arten der Gattung Clambus Fischer von Waldheim (Coleoptera, Clambidae). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Zoologica) 53: 313-323

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1965. Clambiden-Studien (Coleoptera). Annales Historico-Naturales Musei Nationalis Hungarici (Zoologica) 57: 259-265

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1974. A revision of the described Australian and New Zealand species of the family Clambidae (Coleoptera) with description of a new species. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 17(1): 1-10 [Date published 13/08/74]

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1978. A revision of the Oriental Clambidae with references to the Papua and Hawaiian species (Coleoptera). Pacific Insects 18: 67-84

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1981. The American species of the family Clambidae (Coleoptera: Eucinetoidea). Entomologia Generalis 7(1): 33-67

Endrödy-Younga, S. 1990. A revision of the Australian Clambidae (Coleoptera: Eucinetoidea). Invertebrate Taxonomy 4(2): 247-280

Johnson, C. 1966. Handbooks for the identification of British insects, Clambidae, Coleoptera. Royal Entomological Society, London Vol. 4, Part 6a. 1-13 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. & Britton, E.B. 1994. Australian Beetles. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press x 192 pp.

Lea, A.M. 1910. Australian and Tasmanian Coleoptera inhabiting or resorting to the nests of ants, bees, and termites. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria n.s. 23(1): 116-230 pls XXV-XXVII [Date published Aug. 1910]

Lea, A.M. 1912. Descriptions of new species of Australian Coleoptera. Part IX. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 36: 426-478, pl. XVII [Date published 8 Feb. 1912]


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)