Two new species of beetles discovered in New Caledonia


19/01/2011

Only five species of so-called ’bug-fleas’ of 60 were found to date in New Caledonia in the western Pacific Ocean. Three years of analysis allowed the researchers now find two new species of herbivorous beetles - Arsipoda geographica and Arsipoda rostrata. These new beetles are mysterious because they feed on plants that scientists still have not managed to find in the archipelago.

"The analysis, funded channel National Geographic, was sent to a classification of the species and study the ecology of these herbivorous insects other than huge leaps with which they hide from their predators" - said Jesus Gomez-Zurita (Jesus Gomez-Zurita), lead author of the analysis and a researcher at the Institute of Developing Biology (CSIC-UPF), a passionate fan of New Caledonia, which brought together hundreds of bugs in order to study them.

Researchers from Spain and New Caledonia used previously developed molecular tools to classify DNA sequence diet of animals in a specific chloroplast DNA (only for plants). The group used plant residues found in the insect gut, where they were killed for extraction of DNA. According to the analysis, which was published in the journal Journal of Natural History, this technique has allowed scientists to open a representative of a new species, Arsipoda geographica, no larger than 3 mm in the mountains eating tropical plant (Myrsinaceae), whereas Arsipoda isola, which has the same size , ate another plant (Ericaceae) in the southern jungles of the island.

"The strange thing is that the DNA sequences of plants belong to the botanical species, which still is not found in the archipelago. This provides an indirect confirmation of the existence of the mysterious botanical diversity, which should be wider than expected on the island with a mass of lush vegetation" - said the researcher, who has studied the bugs for 20 years.

The analysis, which is the first in this line of research has been focused on the family Chrysomelidae (known as ’leaf beetles’ because they feed mainly on plants), allowed us to collect more than 2,000 samples of bugs on Grand Ter, compare them with the other the form and perform a phylogenetic analysis. So far discovered three new species, two of them are described here.

Numerous insects and bugs in the archipelago, many of which are endemic, according to biologist "unknown at this biota" (the set of species of plants, animals and micro-organisms that share a common living area).

"This study of their diversity and similarities without any doubt holds the key to understanding the evolution of life in this part of the world" - he added.

Isolation of New Caledonia in the western Pacific Ocean, which separated from Australia 70 million years ago, has led to "the evolution of some very unusual biota that had no contact with the rest of the world for a huge period of time" - explained the scientist.

Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter


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