LS research update: Biologist Freitag discovers new species of curious spider water beetles
The international scientific journal Zootaxa has recently published a paper by Dr. Hendrik Freitag, Associate Professor of the Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering. The paper is entitled “Ancyronyx jaechi sp.n. from Sri Lanka, the first record of the genus Ancyronyx Erichson, 1847 (Insecta: Coleoptera: Elmidae) from the Indian Subcontinent, and a world checklist of species” [Zootaxa 3382: 59–65 (2012)].
The scientific species name of the new discovery was dedicated to Dr. Manfred Alexander Jäch, one of the world’s leading Coleopterologists from the Natural History Museum Vienna, to honor both his previous contributions to the knowledge of Ceylonese water beetles as well as his works on the genus* Ancyronyx.
Dr. Freitag sampling at a stream
The newly discovered species of the so-called Spider Water Beetles is so far remarkable as it landmarks a substantial extension of the known distributional range of these extremely long-legged beetles. For almost a century, the genus Ancyronyx was only known by two species of distinctly disjunct (=discrete) distributional areas in North America and Southeast Asia.
The paper lists 17 additional species that have been described from Asia just in the last two decades. Eight of these new species alone were discovered from Palawan Island in the Philippines by the AQUA Palawana research program headed by Dr. Freitag. Most of them are endemic to the country or even to single islands.
It has turned out that the Philippines together with some adjacent Indonesian and Malaysian islands is the actual diversity center of the genus. This emphasizes once more the role of the Philippines as a biodiversity hotspot at global scale. More efforts are required to protect our ecosystems and its unique variety of species.
Dr. Freitag sampling in Palawan
(Photo by Dr. Herbert Zettel, NHMW)
The team of Dr. Freitag will continue the biosystematic research into Ancyronyx and other aquatic invertebrates. A recent survey in the course of a biodiversity project of the Ateneo Biology Department in Mindoro let expect further new discoveries. This project will also focus on forest rehabilitation and promotion of sustainable forestation concepts.
*genus = a biosystemtic grouping category that comprises a number of similar and closely related species