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Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

NEW RES Handbook to British Coleoptera larva out now!

Over 40 years in development, the RES Handbook to British Coleoptera larva is now available.

The latest volume in the RES Handbooks series has just arrived! It includes an introduction to the present state of knowledge, followed by a detailed preliminary key, that helps users distinguish Coleoptera larvae from other immature insects. This leads to the main key to all families and many subfamilies. The second half of the Handbook is a systematic survey of the biology of each family.

Beetle -larvae

The order Coleoptera is one of the largest groups of animals, with around 400,000 species currently described world-wide. Although relatively poor in species (4072 according to Andrew Duff's 2012 checklist), the British beetle fauna is reasonably diverse at family level. 103 of approximately 176 world families are represented in Great Britain.

Most beetles spend the majority of their lives as larvae. The longest recorded larval development, more than 50 years, is for a North American wood-feeding buprestid with an adult life of just a few weeks. Arguably it's at this larval stage where beetles make their greatest ecological impact, since larvae are primarily occupied with feeding.

The Handbook owes its inception to pioneering work on immature beetles by Fritz Isidore van Emden (1898-1958). His son Helmut van Emden passed his father’s collection of beetle larvae to the Natural History Museum in 1976, with an understanding that the collection could be used to produce an identification guide. Over the past few decades, the original key and manuscripts were extensively redrafted, rewritten and updated by several members of the Museum’s staff, but with every delay taxonomic changes meant that the manuscripts went out of date. A final monumental effort by Max Barclay and Beulah Garner has brought this long anticipated guide to publication.

Friday, July 26, 2019