The natural history of tree wētā and diversity of New Zealand cave wētā

Mary Morgan-Richards *1

1 Massey University, Palmerston North

New Zealand tree wētā Hemideina spp. are a common and abundant part of our forest and urban ecosystems.  They provide food for numerous insectivores and as arboreal omnivores they eat our forests. Using studies of the Wellington tree wētā H. crassidens we now have basic knowledge of their diet, behaviour and life history.  Highlights of their natural history will be presented.  In contrast, the diversity of New Zealand Rhaphidophoridae is very poorly documented. We have begun to understand the weaknesses of the current taxonomy and the level of species diversity that exists. A radiation of elaborate male reproductive structures suggests sexual selection and reproductive isolation have combined to produce many species rapidly.  I will illustrate evidence for this radiation with preliminary genetic data and photos of novel secondary sexual structures.

Download (PDF)