Two scientists from the National Museum were involved in the description of 20 new species of terrestrial invertebrates in the last financial year. These new species were described in international journals and consists of 17 mite species and 3 dung beetles species. The researchers involved are Dr Lizel Hugo- Coetzee and Dr Gimo Daniel from the Department of Terrestrial Invertebrates at the National Museum.
Dr Lizel Hugo-Coetzee worked alongside other distinguished scientists from Tyumen State University in Russia (for the discoveries of mite species) and Dr Gimo Daniel in association with a recognized zoologists at the University of Pretoria (for the discoveries of 3 dung beetle species).
Taxonomy has been described as the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms. It is critical to our understanding of our environment and our evolution. Museum scientists regularly collect specimens during field trips and preserve them for research purposes. It can take years of research before a specimen can be described in a scientific publication.
Hugo- Coetzee is an acarologist at the National Museum and she obtained her MSc at the University of the Free State, majoring in Entomology and her PhD in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. Her main research interest is in the taxonomy of oribatid mites in South Africa, as well as some ecological aspects of oribatid mite communities. Oribatida, or ‘beetle’ mites, are small (0.2-1.4 mm) with eight legs and a hard body, occurring in soil as decomposers.
Daniel is an entomologist at the National Museum and he holds MSc and PhD degrees in Entomology. He obtained his PhD degree at the University of Pretoria and he is also a research fellow associated with the Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences at Walter Sisulu University. His main research interests lies in understanding the systematics and biogeography of dung beetles and related scarab beetles. Daniel is cataloguing and describing the impressive biodiversity of Afrotropical dung beetles to address broader evolutionary questions, such as the role of geological uplift and climatic changes in the late Cenozoic in the diversification and possible extinction of scarab beetles in southern Africa.