Panorpa bistriata from Shei-Pa National Park, Taiwan
The Mecoptera fauna of Taiwan is both fascinating and strange. There are 44 species known from this island the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts. This is roughly 7% of all species of Mecoptera known anywhere in the world. How did this relatively small island come to have such a large number of species?
All but five of the species belong to the family Panorpidae, which is normally considered to be a Holarctic fauna with relatively few members distributed in tropical parts of the world. This is particularly true of the genus Panorpa which is thought to include no tropical species, and yet 29 species of this genus are known from Taiwan.
Mecopterans are not found on many islands. Madagascar has no mecopterans, even though it lies only about 400 kilometers from the African mainland, which has many species. New Guinea has no species, even though it was connected to mainland Australia within recent geological time, and Australia contains five families of Mecoptera. Contrastingly, Taiwan probably has the largest number of species per land area of any locality on earth. Why is this?
Taiwan lies at the confluence of two tectonic regions – The Eurasian and Philippine Plates. Over geological time the convergence of plates has pushed up the land mass we call Taiwan to great heights. There are today 165 peaks over 3,000 meters high and the highest peak is 3,952 m. This is the greatest number and highest density of high mountains in the world. At the same time, the connection to mainland Asia is a shallow sea that fluctuates greatly over geological time. So, when sea level is low, there is a pulse of species immigrating to Taiwan from the mainland (and perhaps vice versa). After arrival in Taiwan, these species can easily form isolated populations in the multitude of high mountains and develop genetic divergence. After further geological time, additional pulses repeat the process and a rich, endemic fauna has developed.
The following web pages are an attempt to synthesize our knowledge of the mecopteran fauna of Taiwan. It is hoped that with this information, and especially with these images, anyone should be able to identify the individual species. I have been impressed with the amount of interest by non-professional naturalists in Taiwan for knowing and studying the fauna of the island. Along with study and knowledge comes an interest in conservation. It is hoped that these species will be available for many future generations to enjoy.
In 2010 I went to Taiwan to study this rich mecopteran fauna. I was hosted by the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Taichung. I am greatly indebted to Jeng Kamiliki for coordinating my visit. Chen Yen-Lin from that institution also greatly facilitated the logistics and collected many of the specimens. Both individuals showed great interest in this project and showed boundless energy in the field. There was additional support from Lee Chi-Feng of the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI). He, along with Tsou Mei-Hua and Lee Ta-Hsiang helped greatly with field collecting. My wife, Ana Maria Lira Penny showed great patience in taking the live photos of scorpion-flies in the field. Oliver S. Flint, Jr. from the U.S. National Museum of Natural History was very gracious in loaning to me some historically valuable specimens donated to the NMNH by Syûti Issiki many years ago. None of these web pages would have been possible without the fine Auto-Montage® images created by Rachel Diaz-Bastin. Finally, Amanda Kershaw is to be thanked for putting together the images and text into web pages that are a part of the California Academy of Sciences attempts to describe and conserve the natural world.
Collection abbreviations used in these pages are those found in “Insect and Spider Collections of the World” by Neal Evenhuis at hbs.bishopmuseum.org/codens/codens-inst.html.
Bicaubittacus sonani (Issiki, 1929)
Bittacus chujoi Issiki & Cheng, 1947
Bittacus formosanus Issiki, 1927
Bittacus maculatus Issiki, 1927
Bittacus striatus Issiki, 1927
Neopanorpa dispar Issiki & Cheng, 1947
Neopanorpa formosana (Navás, 1911)
Neopanorpa gradana Cheng, 1952
Neopanorpa k-maculata Cheng, 1952
Neopanorpa magna Issiki, 1927 Taiwan
= Neopanorpa babai Miyamoto, 1994
Neopanorpa makii Issiki, 1927 Taiwan
Neopanorpa ophthalmica (Navas, 1911) Japan, Taiwan
Neopanorpa sauteri (Esben-Petersen, 1912)
Neopanorpa similis Byers, 2002
Neopanorpa youngi Byers, 1994
Panorpa akasakai Issiki, 1929
Panorpa angustistriata Issiki, 1929
Panorpa apiconebulosa Issiki, 1929
Panorpa bistriata Issiki, 1929
Panorpa brevititilana Issiki, 1929
Panorpa bunun Issiki, 1929
Panorpa concolor E.-P., 1915
Panorpa deceptor E.-P., 1913
Panorpa esakii Issiki, 1929
Panorpa falsa Issiki & Cheng, 1947
Panorpa hamata Issiki & Cheng, 1947
Panorpa horiensis Issiki, 1929
Panorpa issikii Penny & Byers, 1979
Panorpa lintienshana Cheng, 1952
Panorpa longiramina Issiki & Cheng, 1947
Panorpa longititilana Issiki, 1929
Panorpa nokoensis Issiki, 1929
Panorpa nudiramus Byers, 2002
Panorpa ochraceocauda Issiki, 1927
Panorpa peterseana Issiki, 1927
Panorpa rantaisanensis Issiki, 1929
Panorpa shibatai Issiki, 1929
Panorpa sonani Issiki, 1929
Panorpa taiheisanensis Issiki, 1929
Panorpa taiwanensis Issiki, 1929
Panorpa tecta Byers, 2002
Panorpa yiei Issiki & Cheng, 1947