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Millipede species: Polyzoniida

All Tasmanian polyzoniidans are in the family Siphonotidae. Seven local species have been recognised, five of which have been named but not yet published by Dennis Black of La Trobe University. Use the pictures and brief descriptions (below) to make tentative identifications.

Polyzoniidans can be found in leaf litter, in rotting logs and under bark, logs and stones. They can add leg-bearing segments as adults, and older females of one of our species (code-named 'AcuMes') may have as many as 300 legs. Female polyzoniidans brood their eggs, which is unusual behaviour in millipedes.

Mesibov (2000)


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'AcuMes'

'AcuMes'

'AcuMes' from Hills Road, Franklin. Image by Geoff Fenton, used with permission.

Length to 30 mm; body smooth, pale yellow with broad, dark lateral bands. Most individuals have dark brown, nearly black lateral bands, but in some populations the lateral bands are a light chestnut brown. This species seems to prefer wet forest. It is widely distributed in Tasmania up to ca 1150 m elevation, but has not yet been found on the central East Coast. Dense aggregations of 'AcuMes' are sometimes discovered in accumulations of leaf litter, in rotting stumps and under bark on standing trees. On Blue Tier I found a female brooding ca 150 eggs.

Bonham et al. (2002), Mesibov (1997b), Mesibov et al. (1995)

Tasmania map'AcuMes'

'HetAus'

'HetAus'

Length to 10 mm; body smooth, pale yellow on top with dark paramedian bands and tan or orange sides. 'HetAus' is semi-arboreal in forest but can also be found in non-forest habitats. It usually occurs in multi-aged groups. Widespread in Tasmania from sea level to ca 900 m, 'HetAus' is also known from central and eastern Victoria. It can be abundant in Pinus radiata plantations.

Bonham et al. (2002), Mesibov (1999)

Tasmania map'HetAus'

'SipIns'

'SipIns''SipIns'

Length to 15 mm; body smooth, near-white or pale yellow with dark median and lateral bands. 'SipIns' and siphonotid sp. NW1 (see below) both have a dark median band, but siphonotid sp. NW1 lacks the two dark lateral bands. 'SipIns' is surprisingly fast-moving when disturbed. Unlike some other Tasmanian polyzoniidans, 'SipIns' is rarely found in groups. It is one of the millipede species whose distribution abruptly stops at the Mersey Break, a faunal boundary in north central Tasmania. Another peculiarity of its distribution is that it does not seem to co-occur with siphonotid sp. NW1 in the Northwest (compare the two locality maps). 'SipIns' seems to prefer wet forest up to ca 800 m. It has also been found in eucalypt regrowth arising from clearfall-and-burn silviculture and in Pinus radiata plantations.

Bonham et al. (2002), Mesibov (1997b, 1999)

Tasmania map'SipIns'

'SipSex'

'SipSex'

Length to 11 mm; body lightly 'hairy', near-white or pale yellow with dark lateral bands. Looking like a smaller and hairier version of 'AcuMes', 'SipSex' is an uncommon species in eastern Tasmania. In some specimens there is a faint, dark, mid-dorsal band. 'SipSex' occurs in a range of forest types up to ca 800 m elevation. Its distribution appears to stop near Devonport along the Mersey Break, a major faunal boundary in north central Tasmania.

Mesibov (1999)

Tasmania map'SipSex'

'SipTas'

'SipTas'

Length 6-7 mm; body smooth, pale reddish-brown with pattern as shown above. Although widespread, 'SipTas' appears to be restricted to wet forest and has been found from sea level up to ca 1000 m. In the Southern Forests it is common both in old-growth forest and in eucalypt regrowth arising from clearfall-and-burn silviculture.

Mesibov (1997b, 1999)

Tasmania map'SipTas'

siphonotid sp. E1

siphonotid sp. E1

Length to 7 mm; body very 'hairy', white or very pale yellow. Because it is an inconspicuous species, siphonotid sp. E1 has probably been overlooked within its range. It has been collected mainly in dry eucalypt forest at lower elevations.

Tasmania mapsiphonotid sp. E1

siphonotid sp. NW1

siphonotid sp. NW1

Length to 15 mm; body smooth, near-white or pale yellow with a dark median band. While siphonotid sp. NW1 and 'SipIns' (see above) both have a dark median band, 'SipIns' has two dark lateral bands missing in sp. NW1, and the median band is proportionally broader in sp. NW1. Siphonotid sp. NW1 is generally solitary and fairly uncommon, seeming to prefer low-elevation wet forest. It has also been found in Pinus radiata plantations.

Bonham et al. (2002)

Tasmania mapsiphonotid sp. NW1