Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

FNZ 48 - Scaphidiinae (Insecta: Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) - Popular summary

Löbl, I; Leschen, RAB 2003. Scaphidiinae (Insecta: Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). Fauna of New Zealand 48, 94 pages.
( ISSN 0111-5383 (print), ; no. 48. ISBN 0-478-09353-5 (print) ). Published 18 Nov 2003

Popular Summary

Scaphidiine beetles

The subfamily Scaphidiinae is composed of approximately 1400 species worldwide, and until very recently was considered a separate family from Staphylinidae (rove beetles). All species have a very similar robust body form, most species are black in colour and shiny; but, on closer inspection, excellent features can be used to distinguish the species. All scaphidiines feed on fungus and often have very well defined host-use patterns. Some species are found in termite nests of fungus-cultivating species in Asia and Africa. Some scaphidiines also have associations with slime moulds (Myxomycetes), amoeboid creatures once classified as fungi, but having bodies that are multinucleate and slither across the soil in search of food and for a place to fruit and distribute their spores. Their rather interesting body form, morphology, and biology make this group one of the more intrinsically interesting members of Staphylinidae.

A stable classification for the entire world fauna does not exist for Scaphidiinae, but New Zealand is particularly important to its development because it contains some of the most primitive members of the group. In an effort to make this group more accessible, we revise the New Zealand’s fauna that is composed of 21 endemic and 2 introduced species, 15 of which are described as new. A key to the species is provided and diagnoses for the genera include characters diagnostic for larvae. Distribution and other biological information is summarised for each species. Cyparium is recorded for the first time in New Zealand and is represented by two new species. This is particularly significant since this genus is rather primitive, is generally tropical, and in this part of the world has been reported only from Java. Our New Zealand species are very similar to at least one member found in South Africa. The endemic genus Brachynopus originally included one species but is here expanded to include three additional species. We also describe the genus Notonewtonia, which has two members; this genus has strange fovea-like structures on the hypomeron. Both these genera are very primitive members of the tribe Scaphisomatini. The remaining species belong to the widespread genera Baeocera and Scaphisoma. The genus Baeocera includes 12 species (10 new) and the species Baeocera actuosa, found commonly on slime moulds, and which is the only species of New Zealand scaphidiine with a subapical gonostyle (a process on the female ovipositor or egg laying structure). The genus Scaphisoma includes three species – two introduced and one endemic.

While some species are widespread throughout the country, other species are more regionally distributed, like a group of species of Baeocera present in the northwestern Nelson portion of the South Island. About half the New Zealand species are flightless and lack well-developed hind wings for flight. Most species are mainly forest dwelling and are collected by leaf litter sifting or by hand collecting from host fungi. The most common species is the flightless Brachynopus latus, a species that can be collected easily in pitfall traps and by examining the undersides of rotten logs with encrusting fungi. Rarely collected species, such as members of Cyparium and Notonewtonia, may be indicative of certain microhabitats that are threatened or rare.