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Coleoptera (beetles) are one of the largest groups of land invertebrates, totalling over 10,000 species. They inhabit every conceivable niche, exploit a multitude of resources, and are still very much unknown taxonomically.

Unfortunately much of what is known about the natural history of New Zealand fauna is fragmentary, largely based on anecdotal data and extrapolations made from related taxa found outside the country.

Most of the New Zealand beetle species were described between 1880 and 1923 by Thomas Broun, who named a total of 4323 species. His descriptions were based to a large extent on single specimens collected in the North Island lowlands whilst the considerably more varied South Island fauna, in particular the rich but then still largely unknown subalpine and alpine component, had only scanty treatment. Hundreds of native and foreign species have since been added, though many groups require detailed taxonomic study, especially since there are many undescribed species and some that are incorrectly assigned to Holarctic genera. The most diverse families in New Zealand are Curculionidae (1496 spp.), Staphylinidae (936 spp.), Carabidae (424 spp.), and Zopheridae (196 spp.) These groups are also well represented in other parts of the world. The least diverse families, with one endemic species each, are Eucinetidae, Heteroceridae, Chelonariidae, Bostrichidae, Phycosecidae, Monotomidae, Cucujidae, and Prostomidae. There are three endemic families (Agapythidae, Cyclaxyridae, and Metaxinidae).

The research on Coleoptera presently focuses on the systematics of microcoleoptera, revising families and documenting the diversity of fungus feeding and saproxylic species. Monography and smaller treatments include species descriptions and keys as well as phylogenetic analyses used to place endemic taxa into world classifications. Apart from descriptive systematics, additional studies include subantarctic island biogeography, evolution of diet and functional morphology, and population genetics.


Brown SDJ, Marris JWM, Leschen RAB 2012. Review of New Zealand Cryptamorpha (Coleoptra: Silbanidae), with a description of a new species from the Three Kings Islands. New Zealand entomologist 35: 29-38.

Fikáček M, Leschen RAB, Newton AF, Gunter N 2012. Horelophus walkeri rediscovered: adult morphology and notes on biology (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae). Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 52: 129–146.

Leschen RAB, Marris JWM, Emberson RM, Nunn J, Hitchmough RA, Stringer IAN 2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Coleoptera. New Zealand entomologist 35(2): 91-98.

Leschen RAB, Gimmel ML 2012. Catalogue of the tribe Picrotini (Coleoptera: Cryptoghagidae: Cryptoghaginae). New Zealand entomologist 35(1): 14-28.

Marske KA, Leschen RAB, Buckley TR 2012. Concerted versus independent evolution and the search for multiple refugia: comparative phylogeography of four New Zealand forest beetles. Evolution 66(6): 1862-1877.

Seldon DS, Leschen RAB, Lievherr JK 2012. A new species of Mecodema (Carabidae: Broscini) from Northland, New Zealand, with notes on a newly observed structure within the female genitalia. New Zealand entomologist 35(1): 39-50.

Yu Y, Leschen RAB, Slipinski AS, Pang H, Ren D 2012. The first fossil bark-gnawing beetle from the Middle Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China (Coleoptera, Trogossitidae). Annales zoologici 62(2): 245–252.

Kadowaki K, Leschen RAB, Beggs JR 2011. Spore consumption and life history of Zearagytodes maculifer (Broun) (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) on Ganoderma, its fungal host. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 35(1): 61-68. WOS:000288229400006

Leschen RAB 2011. World review of Laricobius (Coleoptera: Derodontidae). Zootaxa 2908: 1-44. WOS:000291359400001

Leschen RAB, Butler E, Buckley TR, Ritchie PA 2011. Biogeography of the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands: phylogenetics of Pseudhelops (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). New Zealand entomologist 34(1): 12-26.

Montgomery ME, Shiyake S, Havill NP, Leschen RAB 2011. A new species of Laricobius (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) from Japan with phylogeny and a key for native and introduced congeners in North America. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 104(3): 389-401. CABI:20113178605

Seago AE, Leschen RAB 2011. Revision and phylogeny of Chelagyrtodes Szymczakowski (Coleoptera: Leiodidae: Camiarinae: Agyrtodini). Zootaxa(3090): 1-20. CCC:000296879000001

Seldon DS, Leschen RAB 2011. Revision of the Mecodema curvidens species group (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Broscini). Zootaxa 2829: 1-45. WOS:000289767300001

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