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The "Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Discovery", founded at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, is dedicated to the recording, research and conservation of biodiversity as a priority scientific and social challenge. In the journal ZooKeys, a team of researchers has now published 26 species-new descriptions of moths from Southeast Asia, which belong to the genus Hoploscopa. The data were collected by DNA-examinations of specimens from worldwide research collections.

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin conducts research for nature. This also includes research on species diversity, to which the Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research at the Museum  is dedicated. It is estimated that 10 to 20% of all species worldwide are only just known. -Especially in the tropical regions there is still great potential for discovery. The tropics are also home to a unique diversity of butterfly and moth species (Lepidoptera). While the tropical butterflies have already been very well researched and described scientifically, there is still a lot to be researched for the moths, which at first sight are less attractive. However, moths represent 90% of the 140,000 Lepidoptera species described. Moths play an important role in ecosystems and hundreds of pest species are known. With 16,000 described species worldwide, moths are one of the largest lepidoptera families, but so far almost exclusively pest species such as the flour moth and the box borer have been intensively researched. The genus Hoploscopa, which occurs in the mountains of Southeast Asia, reflects this situation well: 16 species were already described at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, but after reviewing the collection material there is potential for another 70 new descriptions.

In the journal ZooKeys a team of researchers with first author Theo Leger from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin has now published new descriptions of 26 species. The authors of this study used morphological features and DNA studies to re-describe the species from Borneo, New Guinea, the Philippines, Sulawesi and Sumatra. Seven of the species are from recent expeditions, the 19 other species have long been part of the research collections of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and other natural history museums such as London, Washington and Dresden. Although the animals were partly collected in the 1950s, DNA could be extracted from the specimens in the museum collections. Although the external morphological characteristics are the same, the DNA data indicate highly differentiated populations and a high degree of endemism in the region: almost every island has its own species. At least another 40 species remain to be described from the collections.

This wealth represents a major and priority scientific challenge. New technological possibilities such as DNA investigations and artificial intelligence complement the classical investigation methods, set new accents and support an efficient recording of global biodiversity. Researching and preserving biodiversity as an essential part of global biodiversity is not only an ethical obligation, but above all opens up the potential for sustainable use of this diversity in order to solve burning social problems in an innovative way. The "Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Discovery" founded at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin is taking up both the scientific and social challenge.

Publication: Theo Leger, Christian Kehlmaier, Charles S. Vairappan, Matthias Nuss. Twenty-six new species of Hoploscopa (Lepidoptera, Crambidae) from South-East Asia revealed by morphology and DNA barcoding, ZooKeys 907:1-99