June 21, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

After 111 years, a specie of a beetle was rediscovered by researchers and scientists in the forest of Barangay Tanglagan, Calanasan, Apayao. 

According to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), the beetle Pseudapocyrtus schadenbergi was first documented in 1912 by KM Heller, where the specimen was collected at Mt. Palimlim, Ilocos province, but it was rediscovered and re-documented with the recent beetle expedition in Apayao in 2023.

The expedition was organized by the PEF, Davao Oriental State University, California Academy of Sciences, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, and the provincial and municipal governments of Apayao and Calanasan.

The result was recently published in the research paper authored by PEF’s Ma. Susana Villarin Legaspi, Andrei Von Mariano Tirona, Tristan Senarillos Kristian Suetos, and Guiller Opiso, and Dr. Jayson Ibanez of the PEF Research and Conservation Program, with Dr. Ann Cabras of Davao Oriental State University, and Matthew van Dam of the Institute of Biodiversity Science and Sustainability, California Academy of Sciences.

The authors cited the paper provides the redescription of the species with high-definition photos of the beetle, as its first German publication in 1912 did not provide documentation of the beetle in its natural habitat.

“This highlights the value of conducting field-based research in one of the least explored mountain ecosystems in the Philippines – revealing rare, lost, species of high research and conservation importance,” the paper stated.

The paper showed the beetle in black color with elliptical markings and spots of metallic blue and turquoise.

The male and female beetle specimens were collected on the leaves of fig trees (Moraceae) along a semi-open forest trail entangled in a spider’s web. The beetle was not also abundant in the area unlike other species seen in the area, thus only two specimens were collected.       

The two specimens collected are currently deposited at the National Museum of Natural History, under the National Museum of the Philippines (PNM) and the California Academy of Sciences and Entomology Collection (Casent).

There are only five P. schadenbergi specimens globally deposited in three natural history museums; Philippine National Museum (Manila), Senckenberg Natural History Collections or SMTD (Dresden, Germany), and Casent (California, U.S.A), thus highlighting its rarity, the authors said.  

Currently, there are 10 known species of the genus with all the members biogeographically restricted to the greater Luzon Pleistocene Aggregated Island Complex (PAIC), the authors said.

The greater Luzon PAIC is a biogeographic region in the northern part of the Philippines composed of the mainland Luzon, Catanduanes Island, Polillo Island Complex, and Marinduque Island, which were connected during the last glacial maxima, according to the researchers.

The research paper can be viewed at researchgate.net.

“Apayao is an important Philippine eagle nesting site and we discover more of the province’s rich biodiversity through explorations like these; strong reasons why Apayao should be a Unesco Biosphere Reserve,” the PEF stated.

The province is currently working to be declared as the fourth Unesco biosphere reserve of the Philippines, along with Puerto Galera (designated in 1977), Palawan (designated in 1990), and Albay (designated in 2016).