Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Compiler and date details

Andrew A. Calder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Pygiopsyllidae are the largest family of fleas in Australia, with 14 genera and 41 recognised species and subspecies of which all but six species are endemic. Worldwide, the family comprises about 37 genera and 166 species (Lewis 1998).

Three subfamilies are currently recognised (Mardon 1978; Mardon 1981). The Lycopsyllinae, with four genera (Bradiopsylla, Choristopsylla, Lycopsylla, Uropsylla) and eight species, are confined to Australia. The Pygiopsyllinae, centred in the Australasian Region (Australia and New Guinea), comprise 10 genera worldwide. Thirty species in eight of these genera are represented in Australia, among them two endemic genera (Austropsylla, Wurunjerria). Of the remaining two genera, the monotypic Pagipsylla Rothschild is known from New Zealand and the three species of Ctenidiosomus are found in South America. The latter genus is the only representative of the entire family found in in the Western Hemisphere.

The Stivaliinae with 23 genera are represented in Australia by two genera (Metastivalius, Parastivalius) and three species. This subfamily also includes around 116 non-Australian species centred in New Guinea, and a monophyletic group of genera centred in South-East Asia and extending into India and Africa (Mardon 1981).

Seven of the pygiopsyllid genera known in Australia also occur beyond this continent: Bibikovana in New Guinea and Borneo; Notiopsylla on Subantarctic islands; Acanthopsylla, Geohollandia, Metastivalius and Parastivalius in New Guinea; Hoogstraalia in New Guinea, the Philippines and New Zealand; and Pygiopsylla in New Guinea and New Zealand. The majority of species are associated with monotremes, marsupials or rodents, although three genera (Geohollandia, Hoogstraalia, Notiopsylla) parasitise birds. Mardon (1978) discussed aedeagal morphology, relationships and classification of the Pygiopsyllidae.

Pygiopsyllids are characterised as having a closed antennal fossa; eyes present, often more or less sinuate ventrally; pronotal ctenidium present (except in Lycopsylla and Uropsylla); other ctenidia absent (except Hoogstraalia); frontal tubercle absent (except in Lycopsylla which has a genal ctenidium); hind coxa with spiniform setae on inside; small rod-like fourth link-plate between metathorax and basal abdominal sternum present; abdominal terga II–VII usually with two or more rows of setae; tergum VII with two antesensilial setae each side, the upper usually about half the length of the lower (absent in Lycopsylla and Uropsylla); sensilium very convex dorsally.


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)