Cristian Beza-Beza visits the IEXA Entomological Collection at the Instituto de Ecología in Xalapa, Veracruz, México

March 12, 2024

This January our President’s Postdoctoral Fellow Cristian Beza-Beza visited the IEXA Entomological Collection at the Instituto de Ecología in Xalapa, Veracruz, México as part of the project "Curation and Study of the Personal Collection of Pedro Reyes-Castillo at the Colección Entomológica del Instituto de Ecología (IEXA): Continuing the Legacy of Biodiversity Research in Passalidae." funded by the “Ross Taylor Bell and Joyce Rockenbach Bell Research Grant” from the Coleopterist Society. The project was an international effort led by Cristian (UMN), Dr. Larry Jiménez-Ferbans (Universidad del Magdalena, Santa Marta, Colombia), and Dr. Edwin Ariza-Marín (Instituto de Ecología, Veracruz, Mexico) who are experts in the systematics and taxonomy of Passalidae. The visit was coordinated and facilitated by Dr. Viridiana Vega-Badillo head curator for the IEXA entomological collection.  IEXA is counted as the most comprehensive collection for the family Passalidae in the New World, and this visit aided in facilitating its consultation and promoting the research of these understudied organisms.

The presence of experts in the group created an excellent opportunity to train new systematists in an important group of insects for Mexico. As part of this grant, paid scholarships to two local students interested in insect systematics were provided. Paola Cortina and Javier Canul contributed significantly in the curation, digitization and imaging of the types in the personal collection of Pedro Reyes-Castillo. This initiative paid tribute to the legacy of Pedro Reyes-Castillo, who was the world expert in Passalidae and served as a mentor of the current Passalidae scholars, but unfortunately passed away in 2018. The experience positively impacted the study of the research programs of all participants and hopefully will inspire a new generation of passalid workers in Mexico and promote the use and accessibility of the collection deposited at IEXA.