South Africa – Entomological Expedition

Entomologist at work - Canon 7D, sigma 15mm fisheye (1/2000, f/9, 500iso)

Entomologist at work – Canon 7D, sigma 15mm fisheye (1/2000, f/9, 500iso)

In September 2013 I took part to an entomological expedition to South Africa as a field assistant of the two entomologists Massimo Meregalli and R. Borovec, who described 4 new species of a new genus of terricolous weevils (Entiminae: Trachyphloeini) from the Richterveld National Park (South Africa) between 2012 and 2013. They called this new genus “Nama” in honor of the Nama tribe, a human indigenous population who lives in Namaqualand, the region where samplings were carried out.

The target of our expedition was to look for new species of weevils (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) in unexplored localities. We found 25 new species belonging to the new genus. [4 more pictures below].

We travelled from Cape Town (SW) to Richtersveld National Park (NW) passing through three different natural habitats: “fynbos”, “succulent Karoo desert” and “semi-desert sand grassland”. We discovered 25 new species of the genus Nama (whose scientific names have not been published yet) and found tens of other already known species of weevils.

Our target species live below stones and plants of the succulent Karoo desert. All of them show morphological adaptations, shaped by evolutionary pressure of the local environmental conditions. In fact, these animals are able to survive to dryness and to a wide range of temperatures. Furthermore, their colors and shapes help them to camouflage in their habitat, resembling little stones or dirt. They are also protected from predators by strong exoskeletons, which are very hard to be broken by birds or little lizards.

A new species of the new genus "Nama" - Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/500, f/8.0, 320iso)

Nama sp.” a new species is waiting for a name (0,4 cm) – Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/500, f/8.0, 320iso)

A wevil "Cnemodontus cf. pauper" from Namaqualand - Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/200, f/10, 500iso)

Cnemodontus cf. pauper” (1,5 cm) – Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/200, f/10, 500iso)

A Brachycerus found in the karoo (South Africa) - Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/250, f/9.0, 500iso)

Brachycerus sp.” (2 cm) – Canon 7D, sigma 150mm macro (1/250, f/9.0, 500iso)

In just 20 days we collected lot of sampling of soils from different regions of South Africa. Every day, we searched for Nama and other weevils in the soil and under the stones and plants. In the first picture, an entomologist is waiting for some little weevils under the sunlight, while in the picture below some bags containing soils are waiting for examination.

Near Vioolsdrift (South Africa) - Canon 7D, sigma 15mm fisheye (1/8, f/8.0, 800iso)

Entomological expedition to South Africa – Canon 7D, sigma 15mm fisheye (1/8, f/8.0, 800iso)

Bibliography
Borovec R., Meregalli M. 2013. Soil insect research in South Africa. 1. A new genus of terricolous weevils with four new species from the Richtersveld National Park (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Entiminae: Trachyphloeini). Zootaxa 3646 (5).
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