Lifting discovery

Lifting discovery

Great news on the newly discovered beetle species, thusly named to honor an organization with unparalleled service to the public.

This is the view of Filipino scientists who discovered two new species of beetles in the Philippines: one of them named after the Angat Buhay program.

The scientific names of the two beetles are Anacaena angatbuhay and Anacaena auxilium.

They were discovered and described by Enrico Gerard Sanchez (BS Biology 22), thesis adviser Emmanuel Delocado, and co-adviser Hendrik Freitag from the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory of the Department of Biology.

Their findings were part of Sanchez’s undergraduate thesis he had successfully accomplished last April amid the still raging COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected millions and killed scores of thousands since it stormed into the country in mid-March of 2020.

This scientific breakthrough was promoted on the social media accounts of Ateneo de Manila University on July 14.

In a Facebook post, Delocado explained the reason behind Anacaena angatbuhay’s name.

“We are naming the new species after the Angat Buhay program in honor of its valuable and unparalleled service especially in the time of pandemic,” he said.

What exactly is a scavenger beetle?

Hydrophilidae, also known colloquially as water scavenger beetles, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, is a family of chiefly aquatic beetles.

Aquatic hydrophilids are notable for their long maxillary palps, which are longer than their antennae.

Several of the former subfamilies of Hydrophilidae have recently been removed and elevated to family rank; Eimetopidae, Georissidae (= Georyssinae), Helophoridae, Hydrochidae, and Spercheidae (= Sphaeridiinae).

With rare exceptions, the larvae are predatory while the adults may be herbivores or predators in addition to scavenging. Many species are able to produce sounds.

Species of Hydrophilus are reported as pests in fish hatcheries. Other species are voracious consumers of mosquito larvae, and have potential as biological control agents.

This beetle family contains 2,835 species in 169 genera, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Experts say the water scavenger beetles, any of the approximately 3,200 species of the predominately aquatic insect superfamily Hydrophiloidea (order Coleoptera), are found swimming in marshy freshwater ponds throughout the world, especially in warm regions.

Water scavenger beetles have smooth, oval, dark brown or black bodies and short, hairy, clubbed antennae.

They range in length from several to about 4 cm (up to 1.6 inches). The water scavenger beetle swims by moving the middle and the hind legs on each side together.

Most adults (e.g., Hydrophilus and Tropisternus) feed on algae or decaying matter; a few species, however, are predators.

The female deposits about 100 eggs in a silklike, waterproof egg case, which she either attaches to underwater vegetation, floats on the water surface or hangs on herself. The carnivorous larvae feed not only on insects that fall into the water but also on their own kind. Many larvae must come to the water surface for air, although a few (e.g., Berosus) breathe through the body wall and abdominal filaments.

A majority of the beetles in the family Hydrophilidae live in aquatic environments in both their larval and adult life stages. Some hydrophilid beetles will lay their eggs in ephemeral ponds and puddles where the larvae will live as they develop.

Other beetles such as Derralus angustus and Tropisternus setiger live in permanent ponds.

Some beetles such as Tropisternus lateralis will only live in aquatic environments that lack fisah because fish prey on their eggs, while others like D. angustus prefer aquatic habitats with a specific species of floating fern.

Generally, hydrophilids live in marshy, shallow, and heavily weeded aquatic environments.

There are some hydrophilid beetles that make their homes in fresh animal waste, decaying vegetation, or humus-rich soil.

They survive in a very wide variety of locations and because of that some types are more adapted to specific environments than others and will often only move to habitats of the same type. The aquatic hydrophilids are less diverse than the terrestrial hydrophilids.
The Filipino authors brought into proximity the beetle’s “humble” habitat in Ifugao in the Cordillera north of Manila with the Filipino volunteers who work with far-flung communities behind the scenes.

“Moreover, as the species has been thriving unnoticed in a humble mountain creek in Ifugao for at least the last few centuries, dedicating a species name to the Angat Buhay program is a nod to the countless Filipinos silently and persistently working alongside far-flung communities despite the lack of due recognition,” Delocado said.


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