74 New Beetle Species Discovered on Hawaiian Volcano

Posted on December 11, 2015

Mecyclothorax rex with habitat

74 new species of beetles have been discovered on Haleakala volcano, Maui Island, Hawaii. The beetles were identified by Prof. James Liebherr from Cornell University. The species belong to a group of round-waisted beetles called Mecyclothorax.

There are a total of 116 species of beetles known to inhabit just the 1,440 km2 of surface area of the volcano. Diverse microhabitats containing unique Mecyclothorax beetle species living closely together were also discovered. The Mecyclothorax rex beetle is pictured above in an inset over its preferred habitat - the moss mat on an ohia tree. The Mecyclothorax medeirosi species is pictured below.

Prof Liebherr says in a statement, "Haleakala volcano is a large pie with different sets of beetle species living in the different slices. Actually the different pie slices are just like the original Hawaiian land divisions called ahu pua'a, showing that the Hawaiian people had a keen sense for how their island home was organized."

The beetles appear to thrive across a wide range of altitudes. The beetles are found up to the volcano's summit at 3,000 meters. Liebherr says beetle habitats below 1,000 meters have been seriously disrupted by land conversion and the invasion of invasive plant species.

Mecyclothorax medeirosi


A research paper on the beetle species on Haleakala was published here in the journal ZooKeys.

Photos: Prof. James K. Liebherr