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Everything you ever needed to know about Leaf Beetles

By: Dr Chris Reid, Category: Science, Date: 01 May 2014

A new book summarises our current knowledge of this huge group of leaf-eating beetles.

Carpophagus banksiae

Max Beatson © Australian Museum

Four chapters in the latest and last Zoological Handbook on beetles (volume 3) summarise what is known about Leaf Beetles- and these are important beetles to know given that they eat crops and weeds.

There are approximately 40,500 described species of Leaf Beetle in the world, all placed within in a single family. That’s about four times the total bird species, but these fall within numerous families. It's this amazing diversity that makes leaf-beetles a really difficult group to study.

Since the 1990s, I have been working on the classification of Leaf Beetles, using morphology- trying to reveal evolutionary relationships and document the diversity of the family. At the same time, several different molecular labs have been tackling this problem.  

Interestingly, the morphological and molecular research has revealed similar patterns. Several relationships between the beetles are well-defined using both morphology and molecules, but other parts of the Leaf Beetle evolutionary tree remain impossible to figure out with either morphology or molecules.

The four book chapters I have written or co-authored review the current situation regarding classification of Leaf Beetles and what is known about three of the subfamilies. This baseline information will hopefully stimulate further studies. Why? Leaf Beetles feed on leaves, including crops and weeds, and knowing the beetle classification helps to predict life cycles, control and host ranges.


Dr Chris Reid
Principle Research Scientist


More information:
Chris A M Reid (2014) Chrysomeloidea Latreille, 1802, pp11-15 in R Leschen & R Beutel (eds), Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta, Coleoptera, Beetles, Morphology & Systematics, Volume 3. De Gruyter, Berlin.

Chris A M Reid (2014) Chrysomelinae Latreille, 1802, pp243-251 in R Leschen & R Beutel (eds), Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta, Coleoptera, Beetles, Morphology & Systematics, Volume 3. De Gruyter, Berlin

John Lawrence & Chris A M Reid (2014) Sagrinae Leach, 1815, pp264-270 in R Leschen & R Beutel (eds), Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta, Coleoptera, Beetles, Morphology & Systematics, Volume 3. De Gruyter, Berlin

Pierre Jolivet, John Lawrence, Chris A M Reid & Krishna Verma (2014) Spilopyrinae Chapuis, 1874, pp271-277 in R Leschen & R Beutel (eds), Handbook of Zoology, Arthropoda: Insecta, Coleoptera, Beetles, Morphology & Systematics, Volume 3. De Gruyter, Berlin

Tags entomology, biodiversity discovery, ecology, beetles, coleoptera, Australian Museum Research Institute, systematics, biology,