Compiler and date details
31 March 2002 - Penny Greenslade, Division of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT, Australia
Symphyla are small, cryptic myriapods without pigment or eyes. The body is soft and from 2-10 millimetres long, with two body regions, a head and segmented trunk. The head has long, segmented antennae, a postantennal organ and three pairs of mouth-parts; mandibles, long first maxillae and second pair of maxillae fused to form the lower lip or labium of the mouth. The trunk consists of 15-24 segments protected by overlapping dorsal plates, segments 12 (10) are leg bearing, the first segment is large and usually provided with a pair of legs, the last segments are slender lacking legs, and possessing a pair of cerci and sensory structures (trichobothria or sensory calicles) distally on the abdomen. Immature individuals have six pairs of legs on hatching. The sexes are separate.
Symphyla are rapid runners. They are primarily herbivores and detritus feeders living deep in the soil, under stones, in decaying wood, and in other moist places where they feed on the root hairs and rootlets and can sometimes cause crop failure. The garden centipede, Scutigerella immaculata can be a serious pest of vegetable crops and tree seedlings and occurs in greenhouses as well as agricultural situations. A species of Hanseniella has been recorded as a pest of sugar cane and pineapples in Queensland (Boyle 1981; Murray & Smith 1983). A few species are found up trees (Adis & Scheller 1984; Clark & Greenslade 1996) and in caves (Eberhard & Spate 1995; Eberhard et al. 1991). A species of Symphylella has been shown to be predominately predacious (Walter et al. 1989) and some species are saprophagous. Worldwide, there are some 200 described species.
Seven genera and subgenera and 27 species are currently named in the Australian fauna with two species Symphylella A (WA), and Symphylella B (Qld) distinguished but not named (Scheller 1961). Tillyard (1930) illustrated a species as an undescribed Scolopendrella from Australia that Tiegs (1939) considers is probably referable to the “common” species Hanseniella agilis.
Only one species, Scutigerella immaculata Newport, is introduced. Apart from this, all species and one subgenus, Millotellina (Diplomillotellina), are endemic to Australia. The total Australian fauna is likely to comprise at least 150 species.
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.
The body is divided into a head and segmented trunk. The head has long, segmented antennae, a postantennal organ, three pairs of mouth-parts: mandibles, the long first maxillae, and the second pair of maxillae which are fused to form the lower lip or labium of the mouth. The trunk consists of 15–24 segments protected by overlapping dorsal plates, 12 (10) segments are leg bearing, the first segment is large and usually provided with a pair of legs, the last segment is slender lacks legs and possesses a pair of cerci and sensory structures (trichobothria or sensory calicles) distally on the abdomen. Immature individuals have six pairs of legs on hatching. The sexes are separate.
Adis, J. & Scheller, U. 1984. On the natural history and ecology of Hanseniella arborea (Myriapoda, Symphyla, Scutigerellidae), a migrating symphylan from an Amazonian black-water inundation forest. Pedobiologia 27: 35-41
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