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 Histerid Beetle

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Systematics of Histeridae (Coleoptera)

Higher phylogeny
Systematics of Chlamydopsinae
New World Histerini
New World Exosternini

The Histeridae is a fascinating though largely neglected family of beetles. The family contains about 4000 described species worldwide. Most histerid beetles are generalist predators, generalist in the sense that most can survive on whatever soft-bodied prey, usually larval Diptera, they encounter in their chosen habitat.  In habitat preference, however, histerids vary widely.  The most widely recognized habitats for histerids are dung and carrion.  However, although prominent, these habits account for a relatively small fraction of histerid diversity.  Various histerids are also associated with fungi (some apparently are even primarily fungus-feeding.  Many are associated with trees, either living primarily under bark, in tree holes, or in the galleries of wood-boring beetles.  Some species prefer leaf litter or other decomposing vegetation, especially fruit.  Finally, a large number of histerids live in symbiotic associations with other animals.  Many species are restricted to specific burrows, including those of both rodents and tortoises.  Some species are found mainly in birds' nests.  Perhaps the most spectacular (and least known) radiations of histerids are those that live in obligate associations with social insects, mainly ants (AKA myrmecophiles). 

HIGHER PHYLOGENY - I am currently involved in a number of histerid-related projects. One of the most exciting is a phylogenetic analysis of the relationships of histerid subfamilies and tribes using a combination of 18S rDNA and morphology. These studies indicate that few higher histerid taxa are monophyletic, and that the family’s taxonomy will require major revision. However, many important but enigmatic taxa remain to be included. One of the most critical of these is the Chlamydopsinae, one of two subfamilies of apparently obligate myrmecophiles. The addition of Niponius, an eastern Asian genus of bark beetle predators, to the data set is also a high priority.

CHLAMYDOPSINAE – The Chlamydopsinae is an Austro-tropical centered group of myrmecophilous Histeridae. Until recently the group contained only abou 40 described species, mostly from Australia. However, flight intercept trapping throughout northern Australia and Indomalaysia has revealed a wealth of undescribed species. I am currently collaborating with Nicolas Degallier to describe over 100 new species in this group. They are all spectacular beetles. Unfortunately, very is known of their life histories. Here's a sampling:

Click here for a color supplement to publications:

Caterino, M. S. 2003. New species of Chlamydopsis (Histeridae: Chlamydopsinae), with a review and phylogenetic analysis of all known species. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 49:159-235)

Degallier, N. and M.S. Caterino. 2005. Notes taxonomiques sur les Chlamydopsinae et descriptions d'especes nouvelles. - I. Genres Ceratohister Reichensperger, Eucurtiopsis Silvestri et Orectoscelis Lewis, and - II. Genres Pheidoliphila Lea. Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique de France 110(3): 299-326, 110(4/5): 463-494.

Caterino, M. S. 2006. Chlamydopsinae from New Caledonia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 52(1): 27-64.

Click here for a prototype interactive key:

Lucid Key to Genera of Chlamydopsinae (Beta Version).

NEW WORLD HISTERINI - My Ph.D. research focused on revisionary and phylogenetic studies of several clades of New World Histerini, including Spilodiscus, and the Hister servus and coenosus species groups. These studies are continuing with revisions of the Hister militaris group and aanalyses of several species of Hister whose relationships are unclear. Longer term plans include revisions of all other New World Histerini, particularly Atholus, Psiloscelis, and an assortment of species of uncertain affiliation.
NEW WORLD EXOSTERNINI - The tribe Exosternini is extremely diverse and abundant in the New World tropics. About 175 species are presently recognized in this group, including species in the genera Phelister, Operclipygus, Baconia, Hypobletus, Pseudister, and Kaszabister. Ongoing collaborations with Nicolas Degallier have recognized well over twice that many species from sampling (by us and others) throughout the Neotropics. This study is in its early stages, but most relevant types have been seen and we can recognize most of the described species among various nontype samples. Descriptions of numerous taxa are underway; Degallier is compiling a DELTA database of descriptive characters to facilitate recognition of new species; and I have scored a phylogenetic dataset of 40 characters for about 250 taxa. In addition to constructing useable keys for these prominent beetles, we hope to clarify the relationships among the Exosternini and the myrmecophilous Hetaeriinae. It appears likely that the Exosternini will prove paraphyletic to the enormous radiation of Hetaeriinae.

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