A project undertaken at The University of Sydney, and supervised by Dr Nathan Lo.
Our project has enabled the re-discovery of Panesthia lata on Lord Howe Island. This species was thought to have gone extinct around 60-100 years ago as a result of rats, and has not been seen on the island in several decades despite extensive searches. We located the cockroach in a habitat somewhat similar to where P. lata is found on Blackburn Island. The remnant population appears to be very small and limited to a small area. We performed genetic studies to confirm that it is a unique population, and different from P. lata found on the satellite islands Blackburn and Roach.
The re-discovery of P. lata on Lord Howe Island generated significant media interest, and we hope that this population will recover and thrive as a result of the recent rat eradication. P. lata was highly abundant on the main island prior to the introduction of rats, and is likely to have played a key ecological role in carbon recycling and as a food for terrestrial vertebrate taxa.