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WANDERLUST | Davao-based research center discovers new beetle species

Pachyrhynchus Obu Manuvu, a tribute to the Obu Manuvu people

THE researchers of the University of Mindanao ‘s Coleoptera Research Center (CRC) rounded off 2021 with 21 newly discovered endemic beetle species, a record number since the center began operations in 2016. In total, the center has discovered nearly 50 new species and subspecies to science.Β 

“It is quite a big leap considering we only described 2 new species when we started. As our team grew and collaborators expanded, with our areas of expedition going beyond the borders of the region, the discoveries also rose significantly, ” said CRC Director Dr. Analyn Cabras.Β 

Metapocyrtus um, named after the University of Mindanao

Cabras, who chosen as on of the top 15 cohorts of early-career scientists of the National Geographic Society for 2020-2021, is joined by a team of researchers composed of Chrestine Torrejos, Leslae Mantilla, Mark John Pepito, Jessa and Dexter Patalita, Efhrain Loidge Pajota, Harlene Ramillano, and Dr. Milton Norman Medina.Β Β 

The team goes through diligent examination of new species and confirmation with the help of colleagues and experts

“Some of our notable discoveries include a relatively big longhorn beetle, πΆπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘œπ‘π‘ π‘–π‘’π‘  π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘Žπ‘ π‘šπ‘’π‘ , named after β€œErasmus”, the program responsible for the education, training, and international linkages of the staff at the CRC. Another is a tiny tiger beetle, π‘‡β„Žπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘Žπ‘‘π‘’π‘  β„Žπ‘’π‘π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘‘π‘’π‘ π‘–, named after Dr. Hubertus, who made a significant contribution to the conservation of the ancestral land of the Obu Manuvu people in Davao City, and lastly, the most colorful one is π‘ƒπ‘Žπ‘β„Žπ‘¦π‘Ÿβ„Žπ‘¦π‘›π‘β„Žπ‘’π‘  π‘œπ‘π‘’π‘šπ‘Žπ‘›π‘’π‘£π‘’ – the species has the namesake of the Obu Manuvu people and has colors that resemble the colors of the tribe’s traditional garments, ” Cabras revealed.Β 

Cereopsius erasmus, named after the program responsible for the education, training, and international linkages of the CRC

Another new species named in 2021 is π‘€π‘’π‘‘π‘Žπ‘π‘œπ‘π‘¦π‘Ÿπ‘‘π‘’π‘  π‘’π‘š, a tribute to the University of Mindanao, which dons a maroon-like hue, the university’s color symbol.Β 

In search for new beetle species, the CRC research team goes through painstaking expeditions from green spaces in urban areas to Mindanao’s expansive wilderness.Β 

“With the help of the communities and local guides, we often stay in the field for 3 to 5 days, sometimes even longer. We employ various sampling techniques to collect different beetles from different families,” shared Torrejos.Β 

The University of Mindanao ‘s Coleoptera Research Center during one of their expeditions

Specimens are then taken to the laboratory for in depth examination and confirmation with the help of their colleagues and experts who help in the establishment of a species being new to science.Β 

Asked what the discovery of the new species mean to the CRC, Mantilla replied, “it means advancement in the knowledge of Philippine coleopterology and the strengthening of the conservation efforts of our very own beetle species”.

However, 2021’s discoveries are just the beginning for this relatively young, university-based research center. “There’s more work needs to be done. We are still far from the tip of the iceberg,” Mantilla added.Β 

The team will continue to look forward to more expeditions and activities that will help push forward beetle studies in Mindanao and the Philippines.Β 

“We aim to for more meaningful collaborations that will support our race against time in terms of having these species documented before it’s too late. Discovery of new species comes as a bonus for us and a confirmation that there is more out species out there waiting to be discovered,” Torrejos explained.Β 


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