Jewel beetle named, Castiarina shelleybarkerim is only known by a single specimen from Aseki. Photo by: U.Nylander.
Over the past two decades, at least 24 new beetles species have been discovered in a remote mountainous rainforest region of Papua New Guinea by Swedish entomologists Ulf Nylander. Described in the new book Biodiversity, Biogeography and Nature Conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea, the new beetles found in the Aseki Province are all ecologically linked to rotting wood.
The new beetle species belong to two different families with 15 new Buprestidae (jewel) beetles, and nine new Cerambycidae (longicorn) beetles. Although new to science, the beetles are already gravely imperiled.
“Logging and palm oil plantations are expanding in Aseki,” Nylander told mongabay.com. “The unique nature of this montane area is now in danger!”
In his research, Nylander has found that the Aseki region is a notable hotspot for unique wood-devouring beetles, including over 50 species of weevils, scarab beetles, and stag beetles found no-where else in the world.
Entomologist Dr. Dmitry Telnov, who also works in the region, says this part of the world is known for more than beetles.
“Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province, not far from Aseki, is home to the world’s largest butterfly, the majestic Queen Alexandra birdwing (Orninthoptera alexandrae), which is a real beauty and is larger than many little birds. Surprisingly, birdwings are protected by CITES and IUCN. Queen Alexandra birdwing is the national insect of Papua New Guinea (it is found, for example, on golden coins of this country) and is also locally protected. But the plant they depend on for food, Aristolochia schlecteri, is not protected at all—a typical ‘bug’ of modern nature conservation,” Telnov says.
The mid-montane rainforest from a road in Aseki Province. Photo by: M. Hudson.
Male of a birdwing (Ornithoptera chimaera) in the highland forest of Aseki. Photo: M. Hudson.
Timber truck in New Guinean forest. Photo: M. Hudson.
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