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Xyleborini is one of the most diverse and abundant groups of scolytine beetles worldwide, and they are also becoming very important invasive insect pests around the globe. In the U.S., the redbay beetle is threatening the existence of the avocado industry in Florida, and Asian ambrosia beetles are replacing native fauna throughout the southeastern U.S. and are attacking trees in nurseries. However, despite their economic importance, very few comprehensive monographic works deal with xyleborine beetles.
Xyleborini of New Guinea, a Taxonomic Monograph (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) integrates the most comprehensive classification of Xyleborini with recent works to produce the first phylogenetic, fully character-based system. Authors Jiri Hulcr (University of Florida) and Anthony I. Cognato (Michigan State University) obtained representatives of almost all species known from Papua New Guinea and used DNA sequencing to test the generic classification of the group and, in some instances, species boundaries.
Besides their strange appearances, two other things set them apart from others. All of the species in the Xyleborini tribe are fungus farmers, and they are haplo-diploid inbreeders.
"Xyleborini have one of the most fascinating and most prolific reproductive strategies in the animal kingdom," said Dr. Hulcr. "A female lays many female eggs and a single male egg. Then the male fertilizes all of his sisters, which go on to establish their own families. Thus, a single female has the ability to establish a whole new population on a newly colonized continent."
New species, genera, and combinations are made, and 59 species are synonymized. Because all of the genera and many species that occur in New Guinea also occur throughout the Eastern Paleotropic region, the presented reclassification of the Xyleborini is applicable to a larger geographical scale.