Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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Superfamily SCIRTOIDEA Fleming, 1821

Clambids, Scirtids

Compiler and date details

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


The Scirtoidea contains four families: Scirtidae, Eucinetidae, Clambidae and the recently described Decliniidae from the Russian Far East. It was originally established by Crowson (1960) for three polyphagan families, Helodidae (=Scirtidae), Eucinetidae and Clambidae, that lacked the derived features of Elateriformia, Staphyliniformia, Scarabaeiformia, Bostrichiformia and Cucujiformia. Characters defining the group include: larval mandible with mola, larval maxillae with distinct but not articulated galea and lacinia, larval spiracles with normal closing apparatus, urogomphi absent and abdominal tergites and sternites similarly sclerotised; while the adult has an aedeagus with parameres that are not distinctly articulated, the male ninth abdominal segment has the pleurites fused together in front of the tergite and have a characteristic metendosternite. This superfamily was previously referred to as Eucinetoidea (Lacordaire 1857). However, Scirtoidea (Fleming 1821) has priority for the name of the superfamily. Worldwide, the Scirtoidea comprises approximately 42 genera and 805 species (Lawrence 1982; recent literature). The described Australian fauna with 13 genera and 69 species is relatively small.

Adult scirtoids all possess a small pronotum, reduced prosternum and are able to compact and streamline the body so that the strongly hypognathous head rests tightly against the procoxae or in some cases the meso- or metasternum in the resting position (Hlavac 1975). The head is flattened beneath or strongly concave between a pair of sharp genal ridges. The pro-mesothoracic interlocking mechanism found in dascilloids and many elateriforms is absent in this group. Larval forms vary from that of the scirtids, resembling immature cockroaches with their multiannulate antennae, have specialised filter-feeding mouthparts and a metapneustic respiratory system. The larval stages of Clambidae and Eucinetidae are similar to those of Cucujoidea but differ in that the maxillae has a separate galea and lacinia and the spiracles are annular.

Three families are represented in Australia: Clambidae, Eucinetidae and Scirtidae. The Eucinetidae, however, are represented by several undescribed species. The Decliniidae are not found in Australia. The Australian Clambidae were revised by Endrödy-Younga (1990) while the Scirtidae and Eucinetidae have received little attention and are in need of modern revisionary work. Lawrence & Britton (1994) provide keys to the families of larvae and adults found in Australia and Matthews (1984) gives a pictorial key to the South Australian genera.


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 Catalogue 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

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. 1960. The phylogeny of the Coleoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 5: 111-134

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

Fleming, J. 1821. Insecta. pp. 41-56, pl. 85 in, Supplement to the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Vol. 5. Edinburgh : A. Constable.

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

Hlavac, T.F. 1975. The prothorax of Coleoptera: (Except Bostrichiformia-Cucujiformia). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard 147: 137-183

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

Lacordaire, T. 1857. Histoire Naturelle des Insectes. Genera des Coléoptères. Paris : Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret Vol. 4 579 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.

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

Matthews, E.G. 1984. A Guide to the Genera of Beetles of South Australia. Part 3. Polyphaga: Eucinetoidea, Dascilloidea and Scarabaeoidea. Adelaide : South Australian Museum 60 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)
01-Jul-2020 POLYPHAGA 19-Dec-2019 MODIFIED Max Beatson
12-Feb-2010 (import)