In the Name of Mount Jade: New Beetle Found in NTU Experimental Forest
Mount Jade, also known as Yushan in Chinese, is located in central Taiwan. As the tallest peak in Northeast Asia, the mountain is not only famous for its height but also well characterized by its diverse and plentiful biota, which has drawn attention from naturalists worldwide since the late 19th century. The Experimental Forest, an affiliated institute of National Taiwan University (NTU), has officially managed the forests across the northern part of Yushan for decades, where research projects in various domains have been carried out.
In recent times, Assistant Research Fellow Dr. Chun-Lin Li (李春霖) of NTU Experimental Forest and his colleagues, NTU Prof. of Entomology Ping-Shih Yang (楊平世) and Associate Prof. Chuan-Chan Wang (王琄嬋) from Fu Jen Catholic University, have jointly conducted a project supported by the NTU Experimental Forest on the altitudinal patterns of species richness of dung beetles in the Yushan area. During investigation, a significant, unknown aphodiine species belonging to the genus Sinodiapterna was discovered. After detailed comparison, Dr. Li and his colleagues confirmed it to be a new species that was never known to science, and subsequently named the species after the collecting locality of the specimens, Yushan.
Interestingly, the new species, Sinodiapterna yushana, has its closest relative in S. gorodinskiyi, a Russian species identified on the basis of one single female and located approximately 2,600 km north of Taiwan. The two species can be treated as a distinct group (i.e., the gorodinskiyi group) within the genus, since they share some unique morphological features that are not found in the congeneric species. In addition, the type materials of S. yushana included two males, the specimens of which were the first finding of males in the gorodinskiyi group, providing the primary scientific information of male individuals ecologically and morphologically.
Meanwhile, due to their rarity and locality, the distribution patterns of S. yushana and S. gorodinskiyi are difficult to observe in Taiwan’s fauna. Moreover, the insect fauna in Taiwan’s mid-elevation mountains has long been known as having a strong zoogeographical connection to those in southern and western China, north of Indochina, and eastern Himalayas. However, the discovered S. yushana is representative and characteristic of the insect faunas far north of Taiwan in the cold-temperate forest zones of the eastern Palaearctic region.
The research was published in the international journal Zootaxa on 14 September 2017 with the title, “The Genus Sinodiapterna Dellacasa (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Aphodiinae) in Taiwan.”
(Source: Dr. Chun-Lin Li, Assistant Research Fellow of NTU Experimental Forest)