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Report of Research Conducted in Ecuador

Christopher E. Carlton and Alexey Tishechkin
July 14th - 20th, 1999
Last Modified: February 8th, 2000

Staff and students of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA USA participated in a research expedition to the Universidad de Catolica del Ecuador Field Station at Yasuni National Park, Ecuador during June and July 1999. Participants in the expedition were Chris Carlton, Victoria Moseley, Alexey Tishechkin, and Debra Murray. Funding for Carlton and Tishechkin was provided by the National Science Foundation (DEB 9815394). Funding for Moseley and Murray was provided by the LSU Agricultural Center.

The main objective of this expedition was to provide research specimens and ecological data for the dissertation projects of two graduate students working under the direction of C. E. Carlton, and for research projects being conducted by Carlton. Specimens of beetles associated with social insects and organic forest litter were targeted for Tishechkin's research. Observation data on host preferences and developmental stages of euptychiine butterflies were documented for dissertation research conducted by Murray.

Methods and Procedures

Following our arrival in Ecuador on 14 June, graduate student Alexey Tishechkin and Carlton visited the Collection of Insects at PUCE under the care of Dr. Onore. We identified and curated the families Staphylinidae (Pselaphinae) and Histeridae, and identified to family miscellaneous Coleoptera in the unidentified material. We discussed our plans with Dr. Onore and completed paperwork necessary for our stay at Yasuni.

On 16 June we traveled to Yasuni Biological Station. Most of our research was conducted in the vicinity of the field station. We established flight intercept traps at eight locations that were operated continuously during our stay. Each day we collected at least one sample of forest litter, and extracted the beetles using Berlese funnels set up in the station laboratory. We also operated light traps each evening from the station director's residence overlooking the station or at various locations in the forest and at the observation tower in the forest. All members of the team were responsible for locating raiding and emigration columns of army ants (Eciton, Neivimyrmex, and related genera). When located, these columns were carefully monitored for the presence of ant-associated beetles, or the ants were followed until the bivouacs were located. In such cases, the bivouacs were harvested and beetles were collected by hand from among the ants. Termite nests, leaf cutter ant fungus chambers, Azteca ant nests, and refuse deposits from various ants were also collected and examined for beetles. Debra Murray obtained host-plant data about euptychiine butterflies (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae: Euptychiina) by rearing larvae in the laboratory and recording developmental rates and photographs of different life stages, and identifying species following emergence of adult butterflies. Species studied are listed in the table and examples were deposited at PUCE. She also assisted in museum curation by identifying other euptychiines in the PUCE collection.

Results

Preliminary analysis allows us to provide lists of the following taxa documented for Yasuni National Park: Pselaphine staphylinid beetles (identified by Chris Carlton); histerid beetles (identified by Alexey Tishechkin); other staphylinids associated with social insects (identified by Dr. James S. Ashe, and currently on loan to Dr. Ashe); and euptychiine butterflies observed or reared (identified by Debra Murray). The level of identification is variable depending on how well known the insect taxa are for this region of the Amazon Basin. For example, most of the Pselaphinae represent undescribed species, so identification in only possible to genus. Histerids and euptychiine butterflies are only slightly better known.

Checklist of Focal Taxa, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador (number of specimens in parentheses)

Coleoptera

Staphylinidae

Subfamily Aleocharinae

Tribe Lomechusini

Wasmania spp. (4)

Ecitopolities spp. (5)

Ecitophila sp. (1)

Ecitocryptus sp. (1)

New genus near Dromeciton (2)

Macrogerodonia spp. (2 species) (27)

Ecitopora (?) spp. (numerous species) (200)

Ecitodonia (?) spp. (61)

New Genus near Ecitopora (63)

Misc. Lomechusini (49)

Tribe Ecitocharini

Ecitomorpha arachnoides Wasmann (103)
Ecitophya simulans (?) (97)
Campbellia sp. (1)

Tribe Leptonillophilini

Labidopullus sp. (1)

Tribe Ecitogastrini

Ecitogaster sp. (3)

Subfamily Staphylininae

Platydracus spp. (2 species) (15)

Philonthus (?) spp. (25)

Subtribe Philonthina - unknown genus

Proxenobius borgmeieri Seevers (11)
Ecitolycus sp. (5)
new genus near Termitoquedius (3)

Subfamily Paederinae

Ecitomedon sp. (1)

Subfamily Tachyporinae

Vatesus spp. (V. cylpeatus group) (54)
Vatesus sp. (5)

Subfamily Pselaphinae

Tribe Bythinoplectini

Hendecameros sp. 1 (7)

H. sp. 2 (19)

Octomeros sp. (1)

Dichocoryna sp. (3)

Tribe Dimerini

Barroeuplectoides sp. 1 (66)

B. sp. 2 (10)

B. sp. 3 (1)

B. sp. 4 (1)

Tuberoplectus sp. 1 (6)

T. sp. 2 (1)

T. sp. 3 (6)

Tribe Euplectini

Thesium sp. 1 (6)

T. sp. 2 (3)

Mexiplectus sp. (8)

Bibloporina genus (1)

Euplectina genus 1 (1)

Euplectina genus 2 (2)

Euplectini genus 1 (1)

Euplectini genus 2 (1)

Tribe Trogastrini

Eurhexius sp. 1 (9)

E. sp. 2 (2)

E. sp. 3 (1)

Rhexius sp. 1 (3)

R. sp. 2 (5)

Tribe Trimiini

Trimiini genus 1-16 (1 or 2 per species) (25)

Melbamima sp. (12)

Tribe Jubini

Endytocera sp. (2)

Sebaga sp. (16)

Jubus sp. 1-18 (130)

Balega sp. (14)

Barrojuba sp. (9)

Rhinoscepsis sp. 1 (2)

R. sp. 2 (8)

R. sp. 3 (1)

Jubini genus 1-4 (6)

Tribe Batrisini

Arthmius sp. 1-22 (134)

Iteticus sp. (1)

Oxarthrius sp. 1-5 (14)

Tribe Metopiasini

Bibrax sp (16)

Tribe Brachyglutini

Reichenbachia sp. (14)

Euphalepsus sp. 1-7 (52)

Baradina gen. 1-3 (18)

Decarthron sp. 1 (11)

D. sp. 2 (10)

Globa sp. 1 (91)

G. sp. 2 (2)

Pselaptina gen. 1 (2)

Pselaptina gen. 2 (1)

Eupsenius sp. 3 (1)

Eupsenina gen. 3 (1)

Tribe Goniacerini

Listriophorus sp.(5)

Tribe Iniocyphini

Trimicerus sp. (8)

Harmophola sp. (13)

Natypleurina gen. 1 (3)

Natypleurina gen. 2 (1)

Tribe Tyrini

Hamotus sp. (5)

Apharus sp. (4)

A. sp. 2 (1)

Ephimia sp. 1 (1)

E. sp. 2 (2)

Histeridae

Subfamily Abraeinae

Tribe Acritini

Aeletes sp. 1-9 (13)

Acritus sp. (1)

Tribe Teretriini

Teretriosoma sp. (1)

Subfamily Dendrophilinae

Tribe Bacaniini

Bacanius sp. 1-20 (76)

Tribe Paromalini

Carcinops sp. 1-3 (13)

Paromalus sp. 1-9 (73)

Subfamily Hetaeriinae

nr.Alloiodites sp. (1)

Anasynodites sp. (2)

Aphanister sp. (6)

Cheilister sp. (3)

Colonides sp. (1)

Cyclechinus sp. (2)

nr.Euclasea sp. (1)

Euxenister wheeleri (6)

Eyrysister sp. (3)

Iugulister sp. 1-5 (25)

Mesynodites major gr. sp. (1)

M. schwarzmaieri gr. sp. (3)

M. splendens gr. sp. 1-8 (16)

M. s.str. sp. (1)

Mesynodites sp. 1-3 (5)

Nevermannister sp. (1)

Nymphister sp. 1-5 (7)

nr.Opadosister sp. (1)

Psalidister sp. 1-3 (146)

Pulvinister sp. (1)

Paratropinus sp. (45)

Scapicoelis sp. (1)

Sternocoelopsis sp. (1)

Terapus sp. 1-3 (8)

Termitoxenus sp. 1-3 (9)

Troglosternus ecitonis (10)

Tylois sp. (1)

Genus#1 sp. (10)

Genus#2 sp. (1)

Genus#3 sp. (1)

Genus#4 sp. (2)

Genus#5 sp. (1)

Subfamily Histerinae

Tribe Exosternini

Baconia sp.1-5 (18)

Conchita propygydialis (13)

Conchita propygydialis (13)

Hypobletes sp. 1-3 (13)

Mecistosthetus sp. (1)

Operclipygus sp. 1-17 (447)

Phelister sp. 1-28 (1,345)

Synoditulus sp. (39)

Genus #1 sp. (1)

Genus #2 sp. (2)

Genus #4 sp. (1)

Genus #5 sp. (3)

Tribe Histerini

Hister diadema 3 1

Tribe Hololeptini

Hololepta sp. 1-6 (38)

Eutidium sp. 1-2 (2)

Oxysternus maximus (1)

Platyeutidium sp. (6)

Tribe Omalodini

Omalodes bifoveolatus (5)

O. lucidus (6)

O. nr.peruvianus (97)

O. sp. (1)

Scapomegas sp. 1-2 (36)

Subfamily Saprininae

Euspilotus sp. (19)

Subfamily Tribalinae

Epierus sp. 1-5 (7)

Idolia sp. 1-2 (3)

Plagiogramma sp. 1-8 (103)

Genus #1 sp. (3)

Subfamily Trypanaeinae

Coptotrophis sp. 1-5 (100)

Trypanaeus sp. 1-3 (50)

Xylonaeus sp. 1-4 (30)

Lepidoptera

Nymphalidae

Subfamily Satyrini

Subtribe Euptychiina

(host plant(s) in parentheses)

Pareuptychia occirhoe (Poaceae: Ichnanthus)

Cissia myncea (Poaceae: various grasses)

C. penelope (Poaceae: various grasses)

C. proba (Poaceae: Ichnanthus)

Magneuptychia helle (Poaceae: Orthoclada laxa)

M. libye (Poaceae: Pariana)

M. tricolor

M. modesta

M. segestra

M. sp. (Poaceae: Olyra)

Euptychia picea (Selaginelliaceae: Selaginella)

E. sp. (Selaginelliaceae: Selaginella)

Taygetis virgilia (Poaceae: Guadua)

Pseudodebis valentina (Poaceae: Guadua)

P. celia (Poaceae: Guadua)
Posttaygetis penelea (Poaceae: Guadua)

Splendeuptychia ashna (Poaceae: Guadua)

Hermeuptychia hermes

Yphthimoides renata

Y. erigone

Cepheuptychia cephus

Conclusions and Significance of this Research

The western Amazon Basin is well known as one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. The rationale of traveling to this area was our desire to obtain samples from a wide range of habitats in tropical America, representing the most diverse regions available. In doing so, we will obtain the best possible results with the amount of funding available. Other areas that we plan to visit include the eastern Amazonian forests in Brazil (summer, 2001) and the southwestern Amazon in Bolivia (fall, 2000).

Our analysis of taxa from Yasuni was the basis of a poster presentation entitled "Diversity of Two Lowland Rainforest Beetle Taxa (Histeridae and Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae) at a Western Amazonian Locality" at the Symposium on Insect Diversity in the Amazon Basin at the XXI Congress of Entomology at Iguassu Falls, Brazil during August 2000.

The histerid beetles derived from this expedition will form a major component of Tishechkin's Ph.D. dissertation, scheduled for completion in May 2004, and will be included in a subsequent published monograph of the genus Mesynodites. The observation and rearing data on euptychiine butterflies will contribute to Debra Murray's dissertation project on the systematics of this group of nymphalid butterflies. Together, the results of these research efforts will enhance the understanding of insect biodiversity in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador and bring international attention to the importance of Yasuni National Park as a biological laboratory of global importance.