Stephen Richards

Key Info

  • Position Title
    Research Associate
  • Section
    Herpetology Collection
    Australian Museum Research Institute

I am a Research Associate in Herpetology at the Australian Museum who has spent the past 30 years documenting the frogs, reptiles and odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) of northern Australia and Melanesia. During that time I have discovered and described more than 130 new frog and 20 new reptile species, mostly in remote, rugged and difficult to access locations on the large tropical island of New Guinea. I have also discovered more than 100 new dragonflies and damselflies in the tropical forests to the north of Australia.

Apart from documenting the biodiversity of this poorly known but spectacular region, I am interested in understanding relationships between the New Guinea and Australian faunas, and the evolutionary processes that have led to the extraordinary diversification of New Guinea’s herpetofauna with a particular focus on frogs.

I also work with a variety of organisations in Papua New Guinea to provide training to biology students to build capacity for in-country conservation.

I plan to continue publishing descriptions of new frog and reptile species, and to collaborate with colleagues who have expertise in molecular genetic techniques, in order to better understand the true diversity and evolutionary history of New Guinea’s herpetofauna and its relationships to the fauna of northern Australia.

Selected publications (2022–2024)

Slavenko, A., Richards, S.J., Donnellan, S.C., Allison, A. and Oliver, P.O. (2024). Gold in the mountains: Striking new species of Papuascincus (Sphenomorphini, Scincidae) from New Guinea. Vertebrate Zoology 74: 133–149.

Dahl, C., Richards, S.J., Basien, I., Mungkaje, A.J. and Novotny, V. (2024). Local and regional diversity of frog communities along an extensive rainforest elevation gradient in Papua New Guinea. Biotropica 56: 90–97.

Ferreira, F., Kraus, F., Richards, S., Oliver, P., Günther, R., Trilaksono, W., Arida, E.A., Hamidy, A., Riyanto, A., Tjaturadi, B., Thébaud, C., Gaucher, P. and Fouquet, A. (2023). Species delimitation and phylogenetic analyses of a New Guinean frog genus (Microhylidae: Hylophorbus) reveal many undescribed species and a complex diversification history driven by late Miocene events. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2023: zlad168, 1–22.

Kalkman, V.J. and Richards, S.J. (2023) New species of Metagrion Calvert, 1913 from New Guinea with a key to the species east of the Bird's Head Peninsula (Odonata: Argiolestidae). Odonatologica 52: 277–304.

Donnellan, S.C., Catullo, R., Rowley, J.J.L., Doughty, P., Price, L., Hines, H.B. and Richards, S.J. (2023). Revision of Litoria rothii (Anura: Pelodryadidae) from northern Australia. Zootaxa 5352: 73–108.

Luedtke, J. Chanson, J., Neam, K., Hobin, L. et. al. incl Richards, S.J….. Langhammer, P., Long, B., Angulo, A. and Stuart, S.N. (2023) Ongoing declines for the world’s amphibians in the face of emerging threats. Nature 622: 308–314.

Theischinger, G., Mitchell, A., Richards, S.J. and Polhemus, D.A. (2023). Systematics of the Nososticta salomonis complex (Odonata: Zygoptera: Platycnemididae). Zootaxa 5296: 101–146.

Richards, S.J. and Donnellan, S.C. (2023). Two new species of green treefrogs Pelodryadidae: Litoria) from the northern slopes of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera. Zootaxa 5271: 477–502.

Günther, R., Richards, S.J., Hamidy, A. Trilaksono, W., Sulaeman, T.N. and Oliver, P.O. (2023). A new large green treefrog (Litoria: Pelodryadidae) from western New Guinea, with the description of a new diagnostic character for the Litoria graminea Group. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 71: 417–429.

Richards, S.J., Donnellan, S.C. and Oliver, P.M. (2023). Five new species of the pelodryadid genus Litoria Tschudi from the southern versant of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera, with observations on the diversification of reproductive strategies in Melanesian treefrogs. Zootaxa 5263: 151–190.

Günther, R., Dahl, C. and Richards, S.J. (2023). Another giant species of the microhylid frog genus Cophixalus Boettger, 1892 from the mountains of Papua New Guinea and first records of procoracoids in the genus. Zoosystematics and Evolution 99: 173–183. https://doi. 10.3897/zse.99.97006

Richards, S.J. and Bickford, D. (2023). A new species of small green treefrog (Pelodryadidae: Litoria) from the Lakekamu Basin in southern Papua New Guinea. Current Herpetology 42: 43–54.

Günther, R., Iskandar, D.T. and Richards, S.J. (2023). A new large Oreophryne species from the mountains of Papua Province, Indonesian New Guinea. Vertebrate Zoology 73: 153–159. https://doi 10.3897/vz.73.e94207

Oliver, P.M., Iskandar, D. and Richards, S.J. (2023). A new species of torrent-breeding treefrog (Litoria: Pelodryadidae) from the mountains of Papua, Indonesia, with new records and observations of the poorly known Litoria dorsivena (Tyler, 1968). Vertebrate Zoology 73: 127–139.

Oliver, P.M., Bower, D., McDonald, P.J., Kraus, F., Luedtke, J., Neam, K., Hobin, L., Chauvenet, A.L.M., Allison, A., Arida, E., Clulow, S., Günther, R., Nagombi, E., Tjaturadi B., Travers, S.L. and Richards, S.J. (2022). Melanesia holds the world’s most diverse and intact insular amphibian fauna. Communications Biology (2022)5: 1–10.

Richards, S.J. and Oliver, P.M. (2022). A new species of insular treefrog in the Litoria thesaurensis species group from the Nakanai Mountains, New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Vertebrate Zoology 72: 1067–1076.