Mizoram: 19 scarab beetle species discovered including a first for India

Guwahati: Zoological Survey of India( ZSI) researchers stumbled upon a collection of specimens lying in their laboratory, which resulted in finding 19 new scarab beetles in Mizoram of which one is new to India.

 “These were collections from 1993 to 1995, and some were in 2019. We studied and carried out research and found there were 19 scarab beetle species from Mizoram which have never been identified, “ said Dr Devanshu Gupta, a senior scientist and In-Charge, Coleoptera Section at ZSI.

The study was conducted by a team of scientists and researchers from the Zoological Survey of India and Kalyani University, comprising Dr. Devanshu Gupta, Prof. Subhankar Kumar Sarkar, Dr. Joyjit Ghosh, Debika Bhunia, and Priyanka Ghosh.

The team found 56 species of scarab beetles from the state of Mizoram. The research work resulted in the identification and reporting of 19 species of scarab beetles as new records to the state of Mizoram.

 Maladera Hmong Ahrens previously known from Nepal, Vietnam, and Thailand, has been reported for the first time from India. 

The specimen has been lying since 1995 in the ZSI laboratory but was never studied. 

Scarab Beetles belong to the family, Scarabaeidae which is one of the best-known Coleopteran families and consists of over 36,021 species worldwide, of which about 2,211 species are currently identified in India. 

Dr. Devanshu Gupta, Scientist-D and in-Charge of Coleoptera Section, ZSI informed that compared to knowledge of scarab beetles from other states of North-East India, information on the diversity and distribution of these beetles in the state of Mizoram is lacking. “During the research work on unnamed specimens of scarab beetles in the Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, the representatives of the state of Mizoram were examined and identified,” he said.

The scarab beetles primarily include two significant groups, based on feeding activity; (1) dung-eating scarabs are commonly called dung beetles or coprophagous, and (2) beetle that feed on different parts of plants, like leaf, stem, root, etc. are phytophagous scarabs. During the study, ten species were dung feeders, while the rest of the 46 species were phytophagous or chafers. The dung beetles perform ecological functions like nutrient cycling, soil aeration, secondary seed dispersal, and feeding the enteric parasites and dung breeding dipterans pests.

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Dr Dhriti Banerjee, Director, ZSI emphasized that such information on faunal studies will be helpful in strengthening the conservation and management efforts in the state, which in turn will help to conserve the forests, vegetation, and wildlife.

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