Mr Tom Weir of Entomology, Black Mountain, Canberra.
Mr Tom Weir: the water bug man
CSIRO Entomology’s Mr Tom Weir talks about his career and dedicated research into water bugs and beetles.
4 December 2007 | Updated 7 May 2013
From tropical rainforests in Queensland to the desert in central Australia, from the Tasmanian high country to the coast, Mr Tom Weir has visited a diverse number of Australian habitats in his search for bugs and beetles.
Mr Weir, a Retired Fellow Senior Curator from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, has dedicated almost four decades to the study of Australia's water bugs and is regarded as one of the country's foremost authorities on the 260 described species out of a total of possibly 300 known species.
“We won't describe them all in my lifetime, not in ten people's lifetimes.”
Mr Tom Weir, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
Mr Weir's dedication, however, has its rewards.
He discovered and described 58 new species of semi-aquatic water bugs and, with Dr Nils Andersen from Copenhagen University, Denmark, has written the first comprehensive book about Australian water bugs, Australian water bugs: their biology and identification.
'Australia's water bugs provide benefits to humans as many species prey on mosquitoes and are themselves a food source for fish,’ says Mr Weir.
'Despite living on the world's driest continent, they are as numerous as they are diverse.’
About 23 000 Australian beetles have been described, but Mr Weir and his colleagues believe there are 80 000 to 100 000 in existence.
'We won't describe them all in my lifetime, not in ten people's lifetimes,' he says. ‘We simply don't have enough people to do it.’
Learn more about CSIRO's work in Water.