Two new species of small, dark, and hairy beetles – including the Fr Jett beetle – were discovered from Negros by Emmanuel D. Delocado and Hendrik Freitag from the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory of the Department of Biology. These very recent discovery was published in the international scientific journal ZooKeys in an article entitled “Two new species of Byrrhinus Motschulsky, 1858 (Coleoptera, Limnichidae, Limnichinae) from Negros, Philippines” [ZooKeys 1070: 51–72 (2021)].
One of the two new species, Byrrhinus villarini, was named after and dedicated to Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J., the immediate past University President and current Executive Director of the Manila Observatory. Delocado and Prof. Freitag decided to name the new species after Fr. Villarin in recognition of his strong push for the environmental research agenda in the University during his nine-year reign as president. Fr Villarin himself is a researcher on the field of environment and sustainability. He is part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their evaluation of the status and recommendations on circumventing the global climate crisis. The other species, Byrrhinus negrosensis, was named after the island of Negros from which both species were collected.
The discovery is remarkable because the two species are the first additional new species of Philippine Byrrhinus in the last 28 years. From five known species present in the country, there are now seven Byrrhinus species. Four of which, including B. villarini and B. negrosensis, are found only in the Philippines. In addition, this discovery comes at a time of heightened anthropogenic activities in the island of Negros, especially on the protected areas. Discoveries like this provide additional reason to push for continued protection of such pristine localities despite strong movement to privatize and commercialize these areas.
Expedition to the island of Negros is part of the “Freshwater biodiversity surveys” project funded by the School of Science and Engineering Industry 4.0 Research Fund (SI4-013) of Ateneo Research Institute of Science and Engineering (ARISE) and the Biodiversity Teaching in a Philippine-Cambodian-German Network (BIO-PHIL) project.
The discovery was made in scope of the PhD dissertation of Delocado which he successfully defended last November 9, 2021 and which was advised by the senior author. Currently, there are only four laboratories worldwide, including the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory, studying the taxonomy and systematics of the beetle family Limnichidae (minute marsh-loving beetles) to which Byrrhinus belongs.