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Taxonomy, distribution and host specificity of the termitophile tribe Trichopseniini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) in New Guinea and adjacent islands

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Only one species of the termitophile staphylinid tribe Trichopseniini, Prorhinopsenius neotermitis, associated with Neotermes spp. (Kalotermitidae), was previously known from New Guinea and adjacent islands. Further collections from colonies of the Rhinotermitidae genera Schedorhinotermes and Parrhinotermes yielded 11 species, all new to science, in the genera Schizelythron (1), Schedolimulus (5), Parrhinopsenius (4), and Papuapsenius, new genus (1). The guest-host relationships are probably specific at the genus level. The New Guinean fauna appears in continuity with that of southeast Asia, where these Rhinotermitidae were already known to be hosts of many Trichopseniini. Our results however contrast with the absence of records of Trichopseniini from Australian Schedorhinotermes, while the tribe is represented there by two species associated with Mastotermes (Mastotermitidae). Multiple host transfer events are hypothesized to explain the occurrence of Trichopseniini with unrelated termite lineages. Although the absence of Trichopseniini from Australian Rhinotermitidae might be the result of insufficient sampling, we suggest that it might also be genuine and result from competitive exclusion by other termitophiles.


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