NTU HIGHLIGHTS August 2016  
  Special Report  

Post-doc Discovers New Beetle in NTU’s Xitou Forest Conservation Area

Located in Nantou County’s Lugu Township, the NTU Experimental Forest’s Xitou Nature Education Area is Taiwan’s premier site for forestry scholarship, recreation, and environmental education.  This year, the area again made the headlines for the discovery of a new family of beetle.

The Fenghuang Mountain range to the east of Xitou is shaped like a scoop, which allows the area to accumulate the atmospheric moisture rising up along the upper reaches of the Jhuoshuei River and the Beishi River.  This phenomenon maintains a humid climate throughout the year and has allowed the mountains around Xitou to foster a number of unique plants species, many of which are named after the area.

Despite decades of experimental logging, forest restoration work, as well as the development of educational and recreational facilities, a section of primeval broadleaf forest continues to thrive in the Xitou area.  Covering the west face of the Fenghuang Mountain range and extending southward to the northern foot of Lingtou Mountain, this old-growth forest ranges in elevation from 1,300 to 2,000 meters and is home to an extensive sample of the area’s broadleaf trees.  As it is the only remaining intact stretch of virgin forest in the Fenghuang Mountain range and the mountains to the west of the range, the forest is highly valued for its biodiversity.

In 2014, the NTU Experimental Forest granted the area special protection by establishing the Xitou Fenghuang Mountain Broadleaf Forest Conservation Area.  During that year, Experimental Forest researchers also commenced the first comprehensive survey of the forest’s biological resources, documenting fungi, birds, butterflies, and beetles, as well as plants that grow on the ground and on other plants.

During the survey, Chun-Lin Li, a post-doc fellow at the Department and Graduate Institute of Entomology who led the project’s beetle survey, managed to capture specimens of a previously undocumented family of beetle.

As this beetle has been observed only in the Xitou area, it was given the name Megistophylla xitoui.  Chun-Lin Li and Prof. Ping-Shih Yang of the Department of Entomology jointly reported the discovery in the June issue of the New Zealand international journal Zootaxa.  As the only beetle to bear a Latin scientific name honoring Xitou, it serves to highlight the value of the forest’s rich biodiversity.