New whirligig beetle species discovered by University of New Mexico Ph.D. student

November 05, 2015

A new species of whirligig beetle is the first to be described in the United States since 1991. Grey Gustafson, a PhD student at the University of New Mexico, and Dr. Robert Sites, an entomologist at the University of Missouri's Enns Entomology Museum, describe the new species in an article appearing in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Whirligig beetles belong to the family Gyrinidae and are well known for their whirling swimming pattern. Gustafson found the new species in Alabama's Conecuh National Forest while hunting for similar whirligig beetles, and he noticed that they looked very similar to specimens in the Enns Entomology Museum that had not yet been identified.

"Dr. Sites noticed that in the museum's collection there were 11 specimens of a whirligig beetle collected back in the 1970s and identified by somebody -- they don't know who -- as possibly being a new species," Gustafson said. "He contacted me because he knew I was working on a paper to help people identify the North American whirligig beetle species in the genus Dineutus."

Gustafson confirmed that the 11 museum specimens were members of a new species, and that they were the same species as the specimens he had recently collected in Alabama.

"When I got back and checked my samples, sure enough, it was the same species," he said. "It was lucky that somebody had originally noticed that this was potentially new, and that the natural history collection was around to preserve the specimens and that Dr. Sites contacted me. And then it was even more serendipitous that I happened to stumble upon it."

Gustafson named it Dineutus shorti after University of Kansas coleopterist Dr. Andrew E. Z. Short.

"I volunteered as an undergrad in his lab, and he inspired me and showed me that you can have a career being an insect taxonomist," Gustafson said.

Dineutus shorti is not the first insect that Gustafson has named -- it's his fifth -- but he still gets excited when new species are discovered.

"It's hard to describe the thrill I felt when I was looking at these old specimens from the 1970s and realizing, wow, this is actually something new, and not only is it new, but it's right here in the United States," he said. "And then I actually found it myself! It's not like this species was small or cryptic. If you just walk up to the river, there they are. It's really exciting."
The full article, "A North American Biodiversity Hotspot Gets Richer: A New Species of Whirligig Beetle (Coleoptera: Gyrinidae) from the Southeastern Coastal Plain of the United States," is available at

Annals of the Entomological Society of America is published by the Entomological Society of America, the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has nearly 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists. For more information, visit

Entomological Society of America

Related Species Articles from Brightsurf:

A new species of spider
During a research stay in the highlands of Colombia conducted as part of her doctorate, Charlotte Hopfe, PhD student at the University of Bayreuth, has discovered and zoologically described a new species of spider.

Two new species of parasite discovered in crabs -- discovery will help prevent infection of other marine species
Two new species of parasite, previously unknown to science, have been discovered in crabs in Swansea Bay, Wales, during a study on disease in the Celtic and Irish Seas.

Marine species are outpacing terrestrial species in the race against global warming
Global warming is causing species to search for more temperate environments in which to migrate to, but it is marine species -- according to the latest results of a Franco-American study mainly involving scientists from the CNRS, Ifremer, the Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier and the University of Picardy Jules Verne -- that are leading the way by moving up to six times faster towards the poles than their terrestrial congeners.

Directed species loss from species-rich forests strongly decreases productivity
At high species richness, directed loss, but not random loss, of tree species strongly decreases forest productivity.

What is an endangered species?
What makes for an endangered species classification isn't always obvious.

One species, many origins
In a paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, a group of researchers argue that our evolutionary past must be understood as the outcome of dynamic changes in connectivity, or gene flow, between early humans scattered across Africa.

Species on the move
A total of 55 animal species in the UK have been displaced from their natural ranges or enabled to arrive for the first time on UK shores because of climate change over the last 10 years (2008-2018) -- as revealed in a new study published today by scientists at international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Chasing species' 'intactness'
In an effort to better protect the world's last ecologically intact ecosystems, researchers developed a new metric called 'The Last of the Wild in Each Ecoregion' (LWE), which aimed to quantify the most intact parts of each ecoregion.

How do species adapt to their surroundings?
Several fish species can change sex as needed. Other species adapt to their surroundings by living long lives -- or by living shorter lives and having lots of offspring.

Five new frog species from Madagascar
Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich and the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology have named five new species of frogs found across the island of Madagascar.

Read More: Species News and Species Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to