Reduviidae of Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the world's major biodiversity hotspots. As with many other taxonomic groups present on the island, the Malagasy terrestrial arthropods are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and invasive species. Over 70% of the original habitat has been destroyed (Myers et al., 2000). In response to this threat, the government of Madagascar has been increasing conservation efforts. However, taxonomic surveys of the Malagasy flora and fauna are still severely needed. The California Academy of Science conducted the Terrestrial Arthropod Inventory of Madagascar Project for exploration of the arthropod fauna. Among a plethora of other insects, this project has yielded more than 3,000 specimens of Reduviidae. This has provided a unique opportunity to examine and revise the reduviid fauna of Madagascar.
About 250 reduviid species were known to occur in Madagascar prior to 1988 (Maldonado, 1990). Andre Villiers was the largest contributor to Malagasy reduviid species discovery and exploration; he described more than two-thirds of the present diversity! Few taxonomic works have since been published, with only 19 species described since. With the taxonomic revisions our lab is conducting, we expect a dramatic increase in described reduviid species diversity in Madagascar.
Maldonado, J. 1990. Systematic catalogue of the Reduviidae of the world (Insecta: Heteroptera). Caribb. J. Sci. Special Edition: 1-694.
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A.B., Kent, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853-858.