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Beetlemania At Bug Museum

It’s been a hard day’s night for Lincoln University Entomology Research Collection Curator John Marris and his team, who recently completed the mammoth task of adding 14,000 new beetle specimens to the university’s collection.

The beetles, gifted by the University of Canterbury, represent the single largest donation of specimens in the collection’s 50-year history.

Numbering almost 1000 species, many of which are new to science, the specimens add significantly to the overall coverage of insect biodiversity within the Lincoln collection, and are a large addition to the existing 250,000 pinned insects already held.

Lincoln University houses one of the country’s largest entomology collections and is the only university-based collection in New Zealand.

The collection is used by Lincoln staff and students, as well as national and international researchers, as an identification reference library and as a source for new species descriptions.

The beetle donation came from a large study on the impact of forest changes – including declining forest cover, altered spatial arrangement of small and isolated patches, and edge effects from adjacent pastoral land – on the invertebrate fauna in the Hurunui District. It will be an important resource for future research on the impacts of changes to our forests.

The project took Research Technician Sally Ladbrook around 700 hours to complete, and was supported by funding from the Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust, which provides grants for science and technology in the Canterbury and Westland regions.

The New Zealand insect fauna consists of 10,000 described (named) species, but it is estimated that another 10,000 species are yet to be described.

Beetles account for 40% of all insect species. The overwhelming majority of New Zealand insect species – over 90 per cent – are endemic to New Zealand.

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