James K. Liebherr
Professor & Curator
Systematics of Coleoptera especially Carabidae; speciation; biogeography; conservation biology
I study distributional patterns of species-level radiations in their phylogenetic context in order to deduce factors that influence diversification. In the past 5 years I have maintained two parallel research foci: 1, analyzing a radiation of some 130 species of aggregate Holarctic distribution, classified in the genus Agonum (Liebherr & Schmidt 2004). Agonum beetles occupy wetland habitats in the northern hemisphere, and based on my analysis, we have learned that species that are successful in agricultural habitats are drawn from a close set of phylogenetic relatives, all of whom can live on disturbed, alkaline soil. This was the first world-wide phylogenetic analysis including all known species for a group of this magnitude (>100 species).
Secondly I am studying native Hawaiian carabids in the genera Blackburnia (132 spp.) and Mecyclothorax (192 spp.). I have recorded date-locality data for over 42,000 specimens of Hawaiian Carabidae held in institutional collections and collected from 1832 until today. These data have been used to determine suites of species absent from recent sampling. These species’ associated absence suggests their extinction, or at least serious endangerment. I have in press my first paper describing new species in the Mecyclothorax radiation, with that manuscript comprising a first attempt at rapid publication of species descriptions using photo-micrography and database-driven distributional mapping. I have built my research group around graduate and undergraduate students. As at most 30% of insect diversity has been characterized (arguably only 20% to 10%), morphological systematists will be vital to worldwide biodiversity efforts that will occupy systematic entomology for the foreseeable future. Cornell is the major North American producer of highly trained and intellectually gifted Ph.D. insect systematists, and holds a major worldwide responsibility for continuation of this important entomological subdiscipline.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2012. New Mecyclothorax spp. (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Moriomorphini) define Mont Mauru, eastern Tahiti Nui, as a distinct area of endemism. ZooKeys 227: 63-99 (DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.227.3797).
- Liebherr, J.K. 2012. The first precinctive Carabidae from Moorea, Society Islands: new Mecyclothorax spp. (Coleoptera) from the summit of Mont Tohiea. ZooKeys 224: 37-80 (DOI:10.3897/zookeys.224.3675).
- Seldon, D.S., R.A.B. Leschen & J.K. Liebherr. 2012. A new species of Mecodema (Carabidae: Broscini) from Northland, New Zealand, with notes on a newly observed structure within the female genitalia. New Zealand Entomologist 35(1): 39-50.
- Liebherr, J.K. & P.D. Krushelnycky. 2011. Mecyclothorax palikea, sp. n. from the Waianae Range, Oahu, and the biogeographical history of Hawaii's M. flavomarginatus species group (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Moriomorphini). Insect Systematics &Evolution 43: 365-384.
- Liebherr,J.K. 2011. Cladistic assessment of subtribal affinities within the tribeMoriomorphini with description of Rossjoycea glacialis, gen. n. and sp. n. from the South Island, and revision of Meonochilus Liebherr & Marris from the North Island, New Zealand (Coleoptera, Carabidae). ZooKeys 147: 277-335.101.
- Liebherr,J.K., J.W.M. Marris, R.M. Emberson, P. Syrett & S. Roig-Juñent. 2011. Orthoglymma wangapeka, gen. n., sp. n.(Coleoptera: Carabidae): a newly discovered relict from the Buller Terrane, north-western South Island, New Zealand, corroborates a general pattern of Gondwanan endemism. Systematic Entomology 36: 395-414 (DOI=10.1111_j.1365-3113.2011.00569; 3 supplementary appendices).
- Liebherr,J.K. 2011. The Mecyclothorax beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Moriomorphini) of West Maui, Hawaii: taxonomy, biogeography, and conservation. Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 58(1):15-76 (dez0005d-1c_015-076).
- Liebherr, J.K., A. Casale, T.L. Erwin & G.E. Ball. 2010. On the provenance of Boheman's "Eugenies resa" Carabidae (Coleoptera) allegedly described from Hawaii. Coleopterists Bulletin 64: 221-229.
- Schmidt, J. & J.K. Liebherr. 2009. Beiträge zur Systematik und Verbreitung paläarktiseher Arten der Platynini (Insecta: Coleoptera: Carabidae).Veroeffentlichungen des Naturkundemuseums Erfurt 28: 225-257
- Liebherr, J.K., S.L. Montgomery, R.A. Englund and G.A. Samuelson. 2009. The first Hawaiian occurrence of the alien ground beetle Agonum muelleri (Coleoptera: Carabidae) from the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii island. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society 41 : 97-103.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2009. Native and alien Carabidae (Coleoptera) share Lanai, an ecologically devastated island. Coleopterists Bulletin 63: 383-411.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2009. Taxonomic revision of the Mecyclothorax beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of Oahu: epithets as epitaphs for an endangered fauna? Systematic Entomology 34: 649-687.
- Liebherr, J.K. & J.W.M. Marris. 2009. Revision of the New Zealand species of Mecyclothorax Sharp (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Psydrinae, Mecyclothoracini) and the consequent removal of several species to Meonochilus gen. n. (Psydrinae, Meonini). New Zealand Entomologist 32: 5-22.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2008. Mecyclothorax kavanaughi sp. n. (Coleoptera: Carabidae) from the Finisterre Range, Papua New Guinea. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 151: 147-154.
- Liebherr, J.K., N.L. Evenhuis & W. Lorenz. 2008. Disenochus perkinsi(Csiki, 1931) (Coleoptera: Carabidae): an unavailable replacement name. Coleopterists Bulletin 62: 441-442.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2008. Taxonomic revision of Hawaiian Bembidion Latreille (Coleoptera: Carabidae, Bembidiini) with a discussion of their reductive and derivative evolutionary specializations. Annals of Carnegie Museum 77: 31-78.
- Liebherr, J.K. 2008. Taxonomic revision of Mecyclothorax Sharp (Coleoptera: Carabidae) of Hawaii Island: abundant genitalic variation in a nascent island radiation. Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 55: 19-78.
- Hannam, J.J., J.K. Liebherr & A.E. Hajek. 2008. Climbing behavior and aphid predation by Agonum muelleri (Coleoptera: Carabidae). Can. Entomol. 140: 203-207.