Leaf beetles are a diverse and economic significant group. Many species from this family are pest species on crops. Identification is challenging and the knowledge about distribution of leaf beetles is limited in many areas, especially the tropics. Logistic and administrative challenges in many countries make it difficult to organise a sampling campaign. Historic collections from museums are a valuable starting point to assess species diversity in a certain region.
BINCO discovered a big collection of leaf beetles from El Salvador in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) in Brussels. This collection was originally from Jan Bechyné, a known scientists who did much research on this family of beetles. Bechyné lived from 1920-1973 and after getting his PhD in 1948, he worked in several institutes including the natural history museum of Prague, the museum G. Frey and the RBINS. In 1959, he went to Central and South America with his wife Bohumila, where he worked and lived in El Salvador and eventually settled in Venezuela. Together with his wife, he wrote 188 publications on leaf beetles which are still very relevant. The collection of Bechyné in the RBINS consists of 18 well filled insect boxes and was digitised by BINCO during June – September 2017. In total, 2.797 specimens belonging to 89 species were present. The information extracted from this collection together with data from literature was compiled in a checklist of leaf beetles from El Salvador.
At this moment, 420 species of leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) are recorded from El Salvador. This project added 33 species to the list. This study will serve as a baseline for further research in the area of Central-American leaf beetles.
The results of our study were published in the scientific journal ZooKeys and can be found here.
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