Few Australian entomologists, ecologists, biogeographers or Quaternary researchers are familiar with the details of Quaternary beetle research. Since the 1950s the study of fossil beetles has developed to become an important discipline of the Quaternary sciences. Unfortunately, however, the significance of the discipline for ecological and evolutionary research has been slow to penetrate mainstream entomological, ecological, and evolutionary thought. This paper outlines the history, methods and results of Quaternary beetle studies, based primarily upon research from the well-studied Northern Hemisphere, and then examines issues relevant to Australian research. Analysis of Quaternary beetle assemblages from Australia can contribute to the reconstruction of past environments and climates, in particular quantitative estimation of past temperature regimes, and potentially, effective precipitation. Of more significance to entomology, however, is the potential to reconstruct climatically-induced changes in distribution, essential for understanding the Quaternary biogeographic history of Australia's insect fauna. Furthermore, it will be possible to examine evidence, or the lack thereof, for speciation during the Quaternary, in the context of Quaternary environmental change.
Field of Research
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective
970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences