Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps



Compiler and date details

December 2007 - P.J. Suter, Department of Environmental Management and Ecology, La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga Campus

1 October 1999 - Ian Campbell, Chisolm Institute of Technology, Caufield East, Victoria, Australia


Ephemeroptera, or mayflies, are a relatively small order of insects with aquatic nymphs and terrestrial adults. The order comprises more than 3000 described species in 42 families and more than 400 genera (2008). They are usually considered to be amongst the most primitive insects (e.g. Hennig 1981) and are unique in that both the subimaginal and imaginal life stages are winged. The nymphs are often extremely abundant in streams, where they play a critical ecological role (Merritt & Cummins 1978). They are often used as valuable ecological indicators, both for fisheries potential and as water quality indicators (Hubbard & Peters 1978). The adult stages have a short life span, usually between one and three days, and do not feed.

The familial classification adpoted here is that first proposed by Landa (1973). It differs from those of most other authors by placement of the genera Tasmanophlebia, Mirawara, Coloburiscoides, Ameletoides and Austremerella in the families Oniscigastridae, Ameletopsidae Coloburiscidae, Nesameletidae and Vietnamellidae respectively. Baetidae are recognised as a family, following the practice of most other authors (e.g. Edmunds et al. 1976; McCafferty & Edmunds 1979; Peters & Campbell 1991).

The present catalogue recognises nine families, 37 genera and 113 species of Australian Ephemeroptera. Mayflies, however, still are poorly studied in Australia and this number of genera and species will increase particularly with further study using the combination of molecular and morphological techniques. There are also numerous new genera yet to be described (Dean 1999b; Suter 1997; Suter 1999a). The taxonomy of the largest family, the Leptophlebiidae is still poorly known. Campbell & Suter (1988) instituted numerous taxonomic changes in the Leptophlebiidae particularly in the genera Deleatidium Eaton, Atalophlebioides Phillips, and Nousia Navàs but this resulted in several species being assigned incertae sedis. It is not possible to list here synonyms in the incertae sedis category and it should be noted that Euphyurus bicornis Ulmer is a junior synonym of Leptophlebia strigata Eaton (see Harker 1954: 265), taxa previously assigned to Deleatidium. Recently, Leptophlebiidae have received considerable attention with descriptions of numerous new genera and species (Bae & Finlay 2003; Christidis & Dean 2005; Dean 1987; Dean 1988; Dean 1997; Dean et al. 1999; Dean & Suter 2004; Finlay 2000).

Harker (1950, 1954) published the first checklists of Australia Ephemeroptera and, although these contained some inaccuracies which were corrected where possible by (Campbell 1988), more recent changes are included here. No keys to the adults have been produced since Harker's work, but more recent keys to nymphs at the generic level have been published by numerous authors (Dean 1999a; Dean & Suter 1996; Lugo-Ortiz & McCafferty 1998; Lugo-Ortiz & McCafferty 1999; Lugo-Ortiz et al. 1999; Suter 1979; Suter 1984; Suter 1993; Suter 1997; Suter 1999a; Suter 1999b; Suter & Pearson 2001).

The poor state of the taxonomy of Australian ephemeropteran nymphs in particular, means that ecological studies rarely indentify mayflies beyond genus. As a result, numerous biological surveys have listed mayfly nymphs amoungst the more abundant organisms encounted (e.g. Malipatil & Blyth 1982) and several studies on aquatic insects or solely on mayflies (e.g. Bailey 1981; Marchant et al. 1984; Chessman 1986), could not be included in the biological references in this database. A series of publications through the CRC for Freshwater Ecology provided keys to mayfly nymphs and identified many that were undescribed and identified only in a single life stage (Dean 1999a; Dean 1999b; Dean & Suter 1996; Suter 1997; Suter 1999a). Australian mayflies, however, do live in a wide range of habitats and fill a variety of ecological roles (Suter et al. 2006). While most species feed on the epilithos — the community of micro-organisms on the surface of stones — or on coarse or fine particulate organic debris which collects on the bed of lakes or streams, members of the genus Mirawara (Ameletopsidae) are carnivorous (chiefly on other mayflies), whilst species of Coloburiscoides (Coloburiscidae) are filter feeders (Campbell 1985).


General References

Bae, Y.J. & Finlay, K.J. 2003. A new species of an Australian burrowing mayfly (Leptophlebiidae: Ephemeroptera). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 79: 90-99

Bailey, P.C.E. 1981. Diel activity patterns in nymphs of an Australian mayfly Atalophlebiodes sp. (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae). Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 32: 121-131

Campbell, I.C. 1985. Dietary habits of Australian siphlonurid and oligoneuriid ephemeropteran nymphs. Verhandlungen der Internationalen Vereinigung für Limnologie 22: 3250-3259

Campbell, I.C. 1988. Ephemeroptera. pp. 1-22, 284-286 (Index) in Houston, W.W.K. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Ephemeroptera, Megaloptera, Odonata, Plecoptera, Trichoptera. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 6 xi 316 pp.

Campbell, I.C. & Suter, P.J. 1988. Three new genera, a new subgenus and a new species of Leptophlebiidae (Ephemeroptera) from Australia. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 27(4): 259-273 [Date published 29 Nov. 1988]

Chessman, B.C. 1986. Dietary studies of aquatic insects from two Victorian rivers. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37: 129-146

Christidis, F. & Dean, J.C. 2005. Three new species of Austrophlebioides Campbell and Suter (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae: Atalophlebiinae) from the Wet Tropics bioregion of north-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 44: 132-143

Dean, J.C. 1987. Two new genera of Leptophlebiidae (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from south-western Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 48: 91-100

Dean, J.C. 1988. Description of a new genus of leptophlebiid mayfly from Australia (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae: Atalophlebiinae). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 100: 39-45

Dean, J.C. 1997. Descriptions of new Leptophlebiidae (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from Australia. I. Tillyardophlebia gen. nov. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 56(1): 83-89

Dean, J.C. 1999. Preliminary keys for the identification of Australian mayfly nymphs of the family Leptophlebiidae. No. 20. Albury : Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology iii 91 pp.

Dean, J.C., Forteath, G.N.R. & Osborn, A.W. 1999. Loamaggalangta pedderensis gen. & sp. nov.: A new mayfly from Tasmania (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae: Atalophlebiinae). Australian Journal of Entomology 38: 72-76

Dean, J.C. & Suter, P.J. 1996. Mayfly nymphs of Australia. A guide to genera. No. 7. Albury : Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology iii 82 pp.

Dean, J.C. & Suter, P.J. 2004. Descriptions of new species and a new genus of leptophlebiid mayflies (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from the Northern Territory, Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 61: 111-118

Edmunds, G.F. Jr, Jensen, S.L. & Berner, L. 1976. The Mayflies of North and Central America. Minneapolis : Univ. Minnesota Press x 330 pp.

Finlay, K.J. 2000. Description and distribution of a new species of Nousia Navas (Ephemeroptera: Leptophlebiidae: Atalophlebiinae) from south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 39: 111-117

Harker, J.E. 1950. Australian Ephemeroptera. Part 1. Taxonomy of New South Wales species and evaluation of taxonomic features. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 75: 1-34

Harker, J.E. 1954. The Ephemeroptera of eastern Australia. Transactions of the Royal Entomological Society of London 105: 241-268

Hennig, W. 1981. Insect Phylogeny. Chichester : Wiley 514 pp.

Hubbard, M.D. & Peters, W.L. 1976. The number of genera and species of mayflies (Ephemeroptera). Entomological News 87: 245

Hubbard, M.D. & Peters, W.L. 1978. Environmental Requirements and Pollution Tolerance of Ephemeroptera. Cincinnati USEPA Report EPA–600/4–78–061. vi 461 pp.

Landa, V. 1973. A contribution to the evolution of the order Ephemeroptera based on comparative anatomy. pp. 155-159 in Peters, W.L. & Peters, J.G. (eds). Proceedings of the First International Conference on Ephemeroptera. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, August 17-20, 1970. Leiden : E.J. Brill.

Lugo-Ortiz, C.R., McCafferty, W.P. & Waltz, R.D. 1999. Definition and reorganization of the genus Pseudocloeon (Ephemeroptera: Baetidae) with new species descriptions and combinations. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 125: 1-37

Lugo-Ortiz, C.R. & McCafferty, W.P. 1998. First report of the genus Siphlaenigma Penniket and the family Siphlaenigmatidae (Ephemeroptera) from Australia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 100: 209-213

Lugo-Ortiz, C.R. & McCafferty, W.P. 1999. Edmundsiops instigatus: A new genus and species of small minnow mayflies (Ephemeroptera: Baetidae) from Australia. Entomological News 110: 65-69

Malipatil, M.B. & Blyth, J.D. 1982. A qualitative study of the macroinvertebrate fauna of the Thomson River and its major tributaries, Gippsland, Victoria. Reports of the National Museum of Victoria 1: 1-95

Marchant, R., Graesser, A., Metzeling, L., Mitchell, P., Norris, R. & Suter, P. 1984. Life histories of some benthic insects form the La Trobe River, Victoria. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35: 793-806

McCafferty, W.P. & Edmunds, G.F. 1979. The higher classification of the Ephemeroptera and its evolutionary basis. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 72: 5-12

Merritt, R.W. & Cummins, K.W. 1978. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Iowa : Kendall-Hunt xii 722 pp.

Peters, W.L. & Campbell, I.C. 1991. Ephemeroptera (Mayflies). pp. 279-293 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Melbourne : Melbourne University Press Vol. 1 xiii 542 pp.

Riek, E.F. 1970. Ephemeroptera (Mayflies). pp. 224-240 in CSIRO (ed.). The Insects of Australia. A textbook for students and research workers. Carlton : Melbourne University Press 1029 pp.

Suter, .J. & Pearson, M.J. 2001. Redescription of Bungona Harker with new synonyms in the Australian Baetidae (Insecta: Ephemeroptera). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 58: 247-254

Suter, P.J. 1979. A revised key to the Australian genera of mature mayfly (Ephemeroptera) nymphs. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 103: 79-83

Suter, P.J. 1984. A redescription of the genus Tasmanocoenis Lestage (Ephemeroptera: Caenidae) from Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 108: 105-111

Suter, P.J. 1993. Wundacaenis, a new genus of Caenidae (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from Australia. Invertebrate Taxonomy 7(4): 787-803 [Date published 28 Sept. 1993]

Suter, P.J. 1999. Irpacaenis, a new genus of Caenidae (Ephemeroptera) from Australia. Australian Journal of Entomology 38(3): 159-167 [Date published 30 Jul. 1999]

Suter, P.J. 1999. Illustrated key to the Australian caenid nymphs (Ephemeroptera: Caenidae). Albury : Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology Vol. 23 36 pp.

Suter, P.J., Dean J., Cartwright, D., Sutcliffe, K., Davies, P., Pinder, A. & Bryce, C. 2006. Habitat profiles of selected Australian aquatic insects. Electronic Publication

Williams, W.D. 1980. Australian Freshwater Life; the invertebrates of Australian inland waters. Melbourne : Macmillan xi 321 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)