Australia is predicted to have a high number of currently undescribed ostracod taxa. The genus Bennelongia De Deckker & McKenzie, 1981 (Crustacea, Ostracoda) occurs in Australia and New Zealand, and has recently shown potential for high speciosity, after the description of nine new species from Western Australia. Here, we focus on Bennelongia from eastern Australia, with the objectives of exploring likely habitats for undiscovered species, genetically characterising published morphological species and scanning classical species for cryptic diversity. Two traditional (morphological) species are confirmed to be valid using molecular evidence (B. harpago De Deckker & McKenzie, 1981 and B. pinpi De Deckker, 1981), while three new species are described using both morphological and molecular evidence. Two of the new species belong to the B. barangaroo lineage (B. dedeckkeri sp. nov. and B. mckenziei sp. nov.), while the third is a member of the B. nimala lineage (B. regina sp. nov.). Another species was found to be genetically distinct, but is not formally described here owing to a lack of distinguishing morphological features from the existing species B. cuensis Martens et al., 2012. Trends in diversity and radiation of the genus are discussed, as well as implications these results have for the conservation of temporary pool microfauna and our understanding of Bennelongia’s evolutionary origin.
Evolution, cryptic species, biodiversity, Queensland, New South Wales.