Advanced Coelopteran Identification course

Hello all!

I am new to inat forums so I do apologise if this has been asked before (I did a search but couldn’t find anything).

Does anyone know of an online course for beetle identification? I am looking for something that covers all of the associated morphological terminology that will assist in being able to key out an unknown beetle all the way to genus level (or species where possible).

Cheers

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I don’t know whether there’s a course that addresses what you’re looking for specifically, but here’s a listing of entomology courses available online from the American Entomological Society. It might be a good place to start looking: https://www.entsoc.org/resources/education/online-courses

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There’s a well known, in person course every year https://www.amnh.org/research/southwestern-research-station/courses/coleoptera-course

You could also message one of the top identifiers on iNat for recommendations.

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Thank you!

I will check out both although unfortunately an in person course in the US isn’t much use to me as I live in Australia. Entomology isn’t as big here sadly so opportunities are limited. I would love to do some of the US courses such as 4-H but unfortunately its a bit of a travel commitment haha

Thanks for your suggestions!

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I just saw this on Nature/Forum about four subjects above yours. There may be something for you

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/online-nature-courses-symposia-theme-days-lectures-events/51460/6

In that case you might see if there is a corresponding entomological society in your country and ask there. They may be able to point you toward more locally relevant info.

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If you have a book that has keys to genus (or at least family) it should have a substantial glossary that goes over the morphological/anatomical terminology used in the keys. I imagine that would be “Australian Beetles” by Lawrence & Slipinski which should get you to genus. Once you get there, you will need to find further literature… Which may or may not be up to date, complete, freely available, specific to Australia, etc. It can be problematic finding all of this literature if you are not associated with an institution that has access to journals. You may find an Australian key for one genus, but not the next one. But that literature will often also have a lot of helpful contextual information to help you muddle through all the anatomical minutiae and you can glean a lot just from reading monographs.

I am not a beetle expert but have run into this trying to track down keys for beetles in North America. Finding an enthusiastic coleopterist in Australia who is willing to share or help you find the relevant papers will be a big help. Tagging or messaging regional experts on iNat is a good start.

There is at least one good, university-level entomology course that you can take freely online - but it is a general ento course and not specific to beetles, so probably will not go into the level of detail you need for the taxa you are working with.

FWIW, most of the trouble I’ve had with beetles is not so much with terminology but with couplets seeming (to me) vague or subjective. “Elytra more pilose, elytral apices more rounded → 3. Elytra not so pilose, elytral apices usually sharper → 5.” kind of stuff. Easy enough to look up “pilose” or “apices” but what does “usually sharper” mean? Compared to what? Especially with older literature that predates modern digital photography - which is often all that exists for the specimen you have there under your microscope. Anyway, good luck! Beetles are fascinating and you will never run out of new things to find/learn :-)

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Okay I think I have the same issue.

I have an extensive library of both books and reprints (including Slipinski vol. 1/2 and the three cermabycid books by Slipinski and Escalona) as well as a digital selection of more modern papers. I really struggle to follow keys and a lot are very vague and hard to follow but I have put this to just not understanding the terms, perhaps it is really the same issue you have. I find some terms will have a definition but it will apply to human anatomy with 0 entomological context - this is why I am looking for a beetle ID course, need some help running through keys, even at subfamily level seems to be a difficult task.

I volunteer sorting samples with a local beetle expert but given how busy he is between lecturing and researching I am reluctant to ask him. I also filter for beetle observation for Australia daily but I find iNat to be not that helpful - there are a lot of research grade obvs with obviously incorrect ID’s, the vast majority of beetles aren’t on inat as well (only about 5K species for the whole country) - its good for the common species though but I don’t need to key out common species.

There are 2 entomological courses local to me but 1 is very general and beginner (ID to order) and the other from the same organisation is an Entomological technician course that doesn’t cover ID - not much use to me since I already manage my own collection and wouldn’t get my new information out of it. I there are some others from other states but again without it being online it makes it hard.

Cheers

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Track down The Torre-Bueno glossary of entomology. There may be a PDF around or get the paper. It’s very useful for deciphering keys in unfamiliar taxa. As you’ve discovered, terminology gets recycled with slightly, or significant, differences in meaning. Torre-Bueno won’t solve every problem but it will help with a bunch.

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To make matters worse, different terminology is used for the same structures in different taxa. I’m surprised that the elytra of earwigs are even allowed to be called elytra, seeing as earwigs aren’t beetles; normally, you’d expect there to be some earwig-specific term for them.

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