Milyeringa justitia

Larson and Foster in Larson, Foster Humphreys and Stevens 2013







Holotype: WAM P.33166-001 male 19.5mm SL.

Paratypes: WAM P.33135-001 16.0mm SL, 33137-001 female 16.0mm SL, 33167-001 male 19.0mm SL, 33169-001 female 23.0mm SL.


Type locality: Old water supply well L8, Barrow Island, Western Australia (20°49'2.31"S, 115°23'41.98"E).

Known also from: Anode Well Q4, Barrow Island, Western Australia (20o59'S, 115o24'E) and Anode Well P2, Barrow Island, Western Australia (20o46'40.07"S, 115o24'41,77"E).

Various stygobitic Crustacea are found in Cape Range, eastern Pilbara and Barrow Island and their biogeography can help to inform us about the distribution and ages of the fish taxa there. The following sources are useful in this regard:

Humphreys (1993) Stygofauna and a Tethyan connection

Yager and Humphreys (1996) Lasionectes exleyi (Crustacea: Remipedia)

Page et al. (2008) Stygiocaris (Decapoda: Atyidae)

Page et al. (2018) Halosbaena (Peracarida: Thermosbaenacea)

Matthews et al. (2019) Parabathnellidae diversity in Pilbara


Humphreys et al. (2013) list the stygobitic fauna from Barrow Island which will provide much of the food supply for the fishes. The Cape Range karst is the 4th most biodiverse subterranean habitat in Australia with 83 obligate subterranean species (41 terrestrial and 42 aquatic). The Barrow Island Karst is the 5th most diverse with 74 obligate species (18 terrestrial and 56 aquatic) (Eberhard and Haworth 2021).


A comprehensive molecular analysis by Page et al. (2018), with data from M. veritas, M. brooksi, M. justitia, Typhleotris madagascariensis, T. pauliani and T. mararybe (all of the members of the Family Milyeringidae as currently understood), supported the erection of a new species for jusitia. They also point out the the mt COI divergence between justitia and veritas is ~20% which is the same as the mt COI divergence between the genus Milyeringa and the genus Typhleotris which are currently the only two genera in the Family. This raises the possibility that justitia may require a third genus to contain it if the Family is to be consistent in its relationships. Their data also strongly support the placement of both Milyeringa and Typhleotris in the Family Milyeringidae as suggested by Chakrabarty et al. (2012) and Sparks and Chakrabarty (2012).

Kuang et al. (2018) used molecular markers to study the internal structure of the Suborder Gobioidei which contains within it eleven Families. They demonstrated that Milyeringidae is sister Family to a group of four  Families: Oxudercidae+Gobiidae+Butidae+ Eleotridae and is only disttantly related to four others: Odontobutidae, Rhyacichthyidae, Apogonidae and Kurtidae (samples from Thalasseleotridae and Trichonotidae were not availabe for analysis).

Biological Notes

Milyeringa justitia is sympatric with a range of stygiobiont crustaceans including Thermosbaenacea, Atyidae (Decapoda), Hadziidae (Amphipoda), Cirolanidae (Isopoda), many copepod taxa including Ridgewayiidae (Calanoida) and it is also sympatric with a groundwater synbranchid eel which is probabaly Ophisternon candidum or a new species in the same genus (Humphreys 2001, Humphreys et al. 2013).

Conservation Status

MuG [CR B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii):3.1:2019]

With a maximum area of occupancy is 78km2 and the presence on the island of oil and gas installations, the threats to this species, and to Ophisternon candidum with which it co-exists, may be substantial. There is however xxxxxxxxxx

The conservation of karst sites, and their fauna, in western Autralia is considered in a very detailed report by the Environmental Protection Authority (2012).

Museum Holdings

As above plus: WAM P.33165-001

Internet Resources

News report

Ningaloo Coast world heritage nimination with details of the subterranean fauna

Milyeringa justitia voucher WAM:P.33135.001 cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene, partial cds; mitochondrial Anode well Q4

Milyeringa justitia voucher Mj_Q4_15151 NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 gene, partial cds; and tRNA-His and tRNA-Ser genes, complete sequence; mitochondrial Anode well Q4

Milyeringa justitia voucher Mj_Q4_15151 recombination activating protein (rag1) gene, partial cds Anode well Q4

Milyeringa justitia voucher Mj_L8_14750 recombination activating protein (rag1) gene, partial cds Well L8

Key References

Michaelis, F. Journal Article 1985 Threatened fish. A report on the threatened fish of inland waters of Austalia
Allen, G.R. Book 1989 Freshwater fishes of Australia
Humphreys, W. F. and Adams, M. Journal Article 1991 The subterranean aquatic fauna of the North West Cape peninsula, Western Australia
Allen, G.R. Book 1992 Inland Fishes of Western Australia
Adams, M. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 1993 Patterns of genetic diversity within selected subterranean fauna of the Cape Range penninsula, Western Australia: Systematic and biogeographic implications
Humphreys, W. F. Book 1993 The biogeography of Cape Range, Western Australia
Humphreys, W. F. Journal Article 1993 The significance of the subterranean fauna in biogeographical reconstruction: Examples from Cape Range Peninsula, Western Australia
Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 1994 The subterranean fauna of the Cape Range coastal plane, Northwestern Australia
Humphreys, W. F. and Feinberg, M. N. Journal Article 1995 Food of the blind cave fishes of Northwestern Australia
Eberhard, S. and Hamilton-Smith, E. Journal Article 1996 Conservation of cave fauna in Australia
Hamilton-Smith, E., Kiernan, K. and Spate, A. Journal Article 1996 Karst management considerations for the Cape Range karst province, Western Australia
Humphreys, W.F. Book Section 1997 Protection of arid karstlands on the Cape Range Penninsula, Western Australia
Humphreys, W. F. Journal Article 1999 The distribution of Australian cave fishes
Humphreys, W.F., Poole, A., Eberhard, S.M. and Warren, D. Journal Article 1999 Effects of research diving on the physico-chemical profile of Bundera Sinkhole, an anchialine remiped habitat at Cape Range, Western Australia
Humphreys, W. F. Journal Article 1999 Physico-chemical profile and energy fixation in Bundera Sinkhole, an anchialine remiped habitat in north-western Australia
Humphreys, W.F. Book Section 2000 The hypogean fauna of the Cape Range Peninsula and Barrow Island, northwestern Australia
Jaume, D., Boxshall, G.A. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2001 New stygobiont copepods (Calanoida; Misophrioida) from Bundera sinkhole, an anchialine cenote on north-western Australia
Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2001 Milyeringa veritas (Eleotridae), a remarkably versatile cave fish from the arid tropics of northwestern Australia
Humphreys, WF Journal Article 2001 The subterranean fauna of Barrow island, northwestern Australia, and its environment
Humphreys, W.R. Journal Article 2001 Groundwater calcrete aquifers in the Australian arid zone: the context to an unfolding plethora of stygal biodiversity
Unmack, P.J. Journal Article 2001 Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes
Wilson, R.S. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2001 Prionospio thalajani sp. nov. (Polychaeta: Spionidae) from an anchialine cave, Cape range, north-western Australia
Humphreys, WF Journal Article 2001 The subterranean fauna of Barrow Island, northwestern Australia, and its environment
Moore, B.P., Humphreys, W.F., Decu, V. and Juberthie, C. Book Section 2001 Australie
Boulton, A.J., Humphreys, W,F. and Eberhard, S.M. Journal Article 2003 Imperilled subsurface waters in Ausralia: biodiversity, threatening processes and conservation
Eberhard, S.M., Halse, S.A. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2005 Stygofauna in the Pilbara region, north-west Western Australia: a review
Hancock, P.J., Boulton, A.J. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2005 Aquifers and hyporheic zones: Towards an ecological understanding of groundwater.
Humphreys, W.F., Shiao, J.-C., Iizuka, Y. and Tzeng, W.-N. Journal Article 2006 Can otolith microchemistry reveal whether the blind cave gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas (Eleotridae), is diadromous within a subterranean estuary?
Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2006 Aquifers: the ultimate groundwater-dependent ecosystems
Finston, T.L., Johnson, M.S., Humphreys, W.F., Eberhard, S.M. and Halse, S.A. Journal Article 2007 Cryptic speciation in two widespread subterranean amphipod genera reflects historical drainage patterns in an ancient landscape
Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2008 Rising from down under: developments in subterranean biodiversity in Australia from a groundwater fauna perspective
Humphreys, W.F., Watts, C.H.S., Cooper, S.J.B. and Leijs, R. Journal Article 2009 Groundwater estuaries of salt lakes: buried pools of endemic biodiversity on the western plateau, Australia
Collins, L.B. and Stevens, A. Report 2010 Assessment of coastal groundwater and linkages with Ningaloo Reef – final report February 2010
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Report 2010 Ningaloo Coast World Heritage nomination
Humphreys, W., Tetu, S., Elbourne, L., Gillings, M., Seymour, J., Mitchell, J. and Paulsen, I. Journal Article 2012 Geochemical and microbial diversity of Bundera Sinkhole, an anchialine system in the eastern Indian Ocean
Humphreys, W.F Book Section 2012 Diversity patterns in Australia
Chakrabarty, P., Davis, M.P. and Sparks, J.S. Journal Article 2012 The first record of a trans-oceanic sister-group relationship between obligate vertebrate troglobites
Environmental Protection Authority Report 2012 A review of subterranean fauna assessment in Western Australia. Discussion Paper. February 2012
Abrams, K. M., Guzik, M.T., Cooper, S.J.B., Humphreys, W.F., King, R.A., Cho J.L. and Austin, A.D. Journal Article 2012 What lies beneath: molecular phylogenetics and ancestral state reconstruction of the ancient subterranean Australian Parabathynellidae (Syncarida, Crustacea)
Humphreys, G., Alexander, J., Harvey, M.S. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2013 The subterranean fauna of Barrow Island, northwestern Australia: 10 years on
Larson, H.K., Foster, R., Humphreys, W.F. and Stevens, M. Journal Article 2013 A new species of blind cave gudgeon Milyeringa (Pisces: Gobioidei, Eleotridaee) from Barrow Island, Western Australia, with a redescription of M. veritas Whitley
Tornabene, L., Chen, Y.G. and Pezold, F. Journal Article 2013 Gobies are deeply divided: phylogenetic evidence from nuclear DNA (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae)
Unmack, P.J. Journal Article 2013 Biogeography
Halse, S., Scanlon, M., Cocking, J., Barron, H., Richardson, J. and Eberhard, S. Journal Article 2014 Pilbara stygofauna: deep groundwater of an arid landscape contains globally significant radiation of biodiversity
Morgan, D.L., Unmack, P.J., Beatty, S.J., Ebner, B.C., Allen, M.G., Keleher, J., Donaldson, J.A. and Murphy, J. Journal Article 2014 An overview of the 'freshwater fishes' of Western Australia
Bishop, R.E., Humphreys, W.F., Cukrov, N., Zic, V., Boxshall, G.A., Cukrov, M., Iliffe, T.M., Krsinic, F., Moore, W.S., Pohlman, J.W., and Sket, B. Journal Article 2015 ‘Anchialine’ redefined as a subterranean estuary in a crevicular or cavernous geological setting
Humphreys, W. F. Book Section 2017 Australasian subterranean biodiversity
Moore, G.I. Journal Article 2018 New morphological data and live photographs of the rare subterranean blind cave eel Ophisternon candidum (Synbranchidae) from north‑western Australia
Moore, G.I., Humphreys, W.F. and Foster, R. Journal Article 2018 New populations of the rare subterranean Blind Cave Eel Ophisternon candidum (Synbranchidae) reveal recent historical connections throughout northwestern Australia
Kuang, T., Tornabene, L., Lia, J., Jiang, J., Chakrabarty, P., Sparks, J.S., Naylor, G.J.P. and Lia, C. Journal Article 2018 Phylogenomic analysis on the exceptionally diverse fish clade Gobioidei (Actinopterygii: Gobiiformes) and data-filtering based on molecular clocklikeness
Perina, G., Camacho, A.I., Huey, J., Horwitz, P., and Koenders, A. Journal Article 2018 Understanding subterranean variability: the first genus of Bathynellidae (Bathynellacea, Crustacea) from Western Australia described through a morphological and multigene approach
Page, T.J., Hughes, J.M., Real, K.M., Stevens, M.I., King, R.A. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2018 Allegory of a cave crustacean: systematic and biogeographic reality of Halosbaena (Peracarida: Thermosbaenacea) sought with molecular data at multiple scales
Halse, S. Book Section 2018 Subterranean fauna of the arid zone
Page, T.J.,Stevens, M.I., Adams, M., Foster, R. Velasco-Castrillón, A. and Humphreys, W.F. Journal Article 2018 Multiple molecular markers reinforce the systematic framework of unique Australian cave fishes (Milyeringa : Gobioidei)
Matthews, E.F., Abrams, K.M., Cooper, S.J.B., Huey, J.A., Hillyer, M.J., Humphreys, W.F., Austin, A.D. and Guzik, M.T. Journal Article 2019 Scratching the surface of subterranean biodiversity: molecular analysis reveals a diverse and previously unknown fauna of Parabathynellidae (Crustacea: Bathynellacea) from the Pilbara, Western Australia
Perina, G. Thesis 2019 Ancient origins of a diverse stygofaunal group: The Australian Bathynellidae (Crustacea)
Perina, G., Camacho, A.I., Huey, J., Horwitz, P. and Koenders, A. Journal Article 2019 New Bathynellidae (Crustacea) taxa and their relationships in the Fortescue catchment aquifers of the Pilbara region, Western Australia, Systematics and Biodiversity
Moore, G. Journal Article 2019 Milyeringa justitia. Barrow Island cave gudgeon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T128969918A128970120
Perina, G., Camacho, A., Huey, J., Horwitz, P. and Koenders, A. Journal Article 2019 The role of allopatric speciation and ancient origins of Bathynellidae (Crustacea) in the Pilbara (Western Australia): two new genera from the De Grey River catchment
Shelley, J.J., Swearer, S.E., Dempster, T., Adams, M., Le Feuvre, M.C., Hammer, M.P. and Unmack, P.J. Journal Article 2020 Plio-Pleistocene sea-level changes drive speciation of freshwater fishes in north-western Australia
Lintermans, M., Geyle, H.M., Beatty, S., Brown, C., Ebner, B.C., Freeman, R., Hammer, M.P., Humphreys, W.F., Kennard, M.J., Kern, P., Martin, K., Morgan, D.L., Raadik, T.A., Unmack, P.J., Wager, R., Woinarski, J.C.Z. and Garnett, S.T. Journal Article 2020 Big trouble for little fish: identifying Australian freshwater fishes in imminent risk of extinction
White, N.E., Guzik, M.T., Austin, A.D., Moore, G.I. Humphreys, W.F., Alexander, J. and Bunce, M. Journal Article 2020 Detection of rare Australian endemic blind cave eel (Ophisternon candidum) with environmental DNA: implications for threatened species management in subterranean environments
Eberhard, S.M. and Howarth, F.G. Journal Article 2021 Undara lava cave fauna in tropical Queensland with an annotated list of Australian subterranean biodiversity hotspots
Saccò, M., Blyth, A.J., Douglas, G., Humphreys, W.F., Hose, G.C., Davis, J., Guzik, M.T., Martínez, A., Eberhard, S.M. and Halse, S.A. Journal Article 2022 Stygofaunal diversity and ecological sustainability of coastal groundwater ecosystems in a changing climate: The Australian paradigm
Gierl, C., Dohrmann, M., Keith, P., Humphreys, W.J., Esmaeili, H.R., Vukić, J., Radek, S. and ReichenbacherI, B. Journal Article 2022 An integrative phylogenetic approach for inferring relationships of fossil gobioids (Teleostei: Gobiiformes)
Saccò, M., Guzik, M.T., van der Heyde, M., Nevill, P., Cooper, S.J.B., Austin, A.D., Coates, P.J. and Allentoft, M.E. Journal Article 2022 eDNA in subterranean ecosystems: Applications, technical aspects, and future prospects
van der Heyde, M., Alexander, J., Nevill, P., Austin, A.D., Stevens, N., Jones, M. and Guzik, M.T. Journal Article 2023 Rapid detection of subterranean fauna from passive sampling of groundwater eDNA
van der Heyde, M., White, N.E., Nevill, P., Austin, A.D., Stevens, N., Jones, M. and Guzik, M.T. Journal Article 2023 Taking eDNA underground: factors affecting eDNA detection of subterranean fauna in groundwater
Thacker, C.E., McCraney, W.T., Harrington, R.C., Near, T.J., Shelley, J.J., Adams, M., Hammer, M.P. and Unmack, P.J. Journal Article 2023 Diversification of the sleepers (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae) and evolution of the root gobioid families
Webb, J.A., White, S.Q. and Smith, G.K. Book 2023 Australian caves and karst systems
White, S.Q., Brooks, D. and Webb, J.A. Book Section 2023 Cape Range