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Coleoptera of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Species Pages

Family Leiodidae

            Tribe Ptomaphagini

 Ptomaphagus (Appadelopsis) merritti Tishechkin

Description and Taxonomy

Length 2.7-2.8 mm. Among Ptomaphagini, the subgenus may be diagnosed by a combination of the following characters: 8th antennomere is always smaller than 7th and 9th, presence of dense transverse microsculpture striae, lack of wings, reduced eyes comprising about 20 facets, simple tubular curved spermatheca and aedeagus with asymmertrically cut, elaborately structured tip (Peck 1973, 1978; Gnaspini 1996). The current taxonomic status of the subgenus was established relatively recently (Gnaspini 1996). Before that, species were assigned to the genus Adelopsis (e.g., Peck 1978). The subgenus is endemic to the southern and central Appalachians and their foothills, where it is represented by 17 described species and a substantial number of undescribed ones. All species look essentially exactly the same and may be diagnosed only by the use of genital morphology, primarily that of aedeagus. Two species are found in the GSMNP (Tishechkin 2007).

Life History

Widespread across the GSMNP highlands at 1350-1750 m elevation.  The specifics of the life history are unknown. Most of the members of the subgenus, including this species, live in deep leaf litter and/or peripheral to well-rotted dead logs in dense montane forests. Several species are found in limestone caves not far from entrances, but all of those species lack characters specific to specialized troglobionts (cave-dwellers) (Peck 1978).


As far as currently known, the species is endemic to the Great Smoky Mountains (Tishechkin 2007).

Conservation Concerns

Not under threat.


Locality records in GSMNP.


Development of these pages was supported by grants from Discover Life in America and the National Science Foundation (DEB-0516311).


Gnaspini, P. 1996. Phylogenetic analysis of the tribe Ptomaphagini, with description of new Neotropical genera and species (Coleoptera, Leiodidae, Cholevinae,

 Promaphagini. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 39: 509–556.

Peck, S. B. 1973. A systematics revision and the evolutionary biology of the  Ptomophagus (Adelops) beetles of North America (Coleoptera; Leiodidae; Catopinae), with emphasis on cave-inhabiting species. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 145: 29-162.

Peck, S. B. 1978. Systematics and evolution of forest litter Adelopsis in the southern Appalachians (Coleoptera: Leiodidae: Catopinae). Psyche 85: 355–382.

Tishechkin, A. K. 2007. A new species of Ptomophagus (Appadelopsis) (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, U.S.A. Zootaxa 1478: 61-64.

Posted 15 August 2007, A. K. Tishechkin, Louisiana State Arthropod Museum.

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