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'Aleocharine beetles (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada'
Date:10/13/2011

Rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) constitute the largest family of insects worldwide, with more than 55,440 described species. In Canada, more than 1400 species of rove beetles are known; however, our understanding of staphylinid ecology and habitat requirements is still very limited. Recent work has revealed that staphylinids are dominant organisms in Canadian forest ecosystems, and as many species require continuous, mature or old-growth stands, the composition of their species assemblages effectively communicates the degree of natural or human impact upon these systems. Species-level identifications are critical in surveys aiming to document ecosystem change via human development or climate change.

Natural and human-caused activities shape our environment and the assemblages of species that inhabit ecosystems and their various microhabitats. Species and assemblages of species are not static entities but are dynamic and change in response to availability of suitable habitats, relationships with other taxa and environmental conditions. Increasingly, human-caused perturbations such as destruction and fragmentation of habitat, inadvertent introduction of non-native species, pollution, over-utilization of biological resources and increasing concentration of greenhouse gases are profoundly changing ecological relationships and resulting in widespread and often irreversible changes in abundance and distribution of species (Buse and Good 1993, Klimaszewski et al. 2008c, 2010, Majka and Klimaszewski 2008c, Paquin and Coderre 1977, Pohl et al. 2008). Consequently, we are experiencing (and causing) one of the largest species extinctions in the history of our planet. Detailed monitoring of ecological change through the study of dynamic species assemblages is important in the mitigation of biodiversity and natural resource loss. Baseline biological data are needed for monitoring the trajectory and degree of change over time. The present paper provides the first comprehensive treatment of aleocharine beetles from Newfoundland and constitutes a badly needed baseline of biological data for biodiversity-oriented studies.

Aleocharinae is the largest subfamily of Staphylinidae, and embraces a wide variety of morphologically and ecologically diverse species that are poorly documented in Canada and elsewhere. Currently, over 400 species in 92 genera are recorded from Canada and Alaska (Gouix and Klimaszewski 2007, Brunke et al. 2011). This subfamily is widely distributed in North America and occurs in almost all terrestrial habitats. Examples of some habitats in NL where aleocharines were abundant and diverse are shown in Figs. 476-487. Most species are found in forests where they occur in leaf litter, under bark, in fungi, in moss and within the nests of ants, mammals and birds. In forest litter, fauna of aleocharines are part of a complex ecological web, including other arthropods, bacteria and fungi, that is responsible for nutrient cycling, which ultimately contributes to forest productivity and resilience.

This contribution represents the first comprehensive survey of the aleocharinae fauna of NL. The information and identification tools contained herein will make it possible to incorporate this diverse subfamily into future biodiversity research.


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