• 05/2018 – Our latest paper on water scavenger beetles just came out in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. A comprehensive methodological (to some degree) study of Oocyclus historical biogeography. This genus comprises extremely cool water beetles that have a fairly modified morphology that allows them to cope with extreme habitats such as waterfalls and rock seepages. Their current distribution is puzzling as some species are found in India, others in Southeast Asia and the rest in the Neotropics. Our study suggests a rather unusual biogeographical pattern possibly obscured by extinction. Read more about it in the Publications page.

Image result for oocyclus

  • 04/2018 – Back from a two-week expedition in French Guiana looking for butterflies, beetles and moths. We stayed at the Nouragues CNRS station in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest where we sampled along trails and in the canopy. Many interesting species of skippers, satyrines and tiger beetles among other insects collected during this trip.

A really nice skipper collected during this trip, a species of the Neotropical genus Entheus (left) Baits made of paper and saliva can be efficient to attract and catch skippers (right)

A quick picture before a few hours in the rainforest to look for Leps

The fabulous Hypna clytemnestra, the sister lineage to all other Anaeini leafwing butterflies (upcoming study), as difficult to catch as any charaxine 

The entire team and friends on the top of the rock outcrops above the CNRS Inselberg station a couple of hours of rainforest hiking from Pararé

The fairly common tiger beetle species Odontocheila cayennensis flying from the trail to lower vegetation to hide

A stunning Prepona that came down from the canopy (left) / The CNRS forest towers, our way to get to the canopy and light trap moths during the trip (right)

  • 02/2018 – Just back from a long expedition across the Marquesas islands in French Polynesia. We were looking for the rare endemic butterfly Libythea collenettei (Marquesan snout butterfly or Papillon à museau des Marquises in French). Only five specimens have ever been collected to date, and the most recent sightings on Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou date back from 2001. Unfortunately we could not find this species. The disruption of natural habitats might be a reason for its possible extinction.

Despite a low butterfly species richness, the diversity of moths is fantastic in the Marquesas, there are several endemic radiations on different islands. Likewise, there are endemic lineages of Marquesan weevils (Left: Tavooii plateau, Nuku Hiva / Right: Mt Temetiu, Hiva Oa).

The habitat where the Marquesan snout butterfly was last seen in 2001, in front of Pouhekaei, and in one of the highest places on Ua Pou.

The most common (yet relatively uncommon) butterfly in the Marquesas, Hypolimnas bolina otaheitae, a subspecies endemic to French Polynesia, found in lowland (Left: Valley in Ua Pou) and higher altitude (Right: Mt Temetiu, Hiva Oa).

Some endemic damselflies and dragonflies can be found along rivers and near waterfalls (Waterfall near Hakahetau, Ua Pou). 

  • 02/2018 – Our paper presenting a new dated phylogeny of butterflies based on target exon capture has been published. It provides strong phylogenetic relationships for the first time in many parts of the tree and supports an origin of butterflies in the Cretaceous about 120 million year ago!

Espeland et al 2018

  • 11/2017 – Our paper on the molecular phylogeny of caterpillar hunter beetles (Carabinae, Calosoma) was just published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. We also provide a new view on the evolution of the subfamily Carabinae with a potential older origin of the clade in the Jurassic.

Calosoma sycophanta in a forest south of France (Hérault) photographed by Bernard Dupont

  • 10/2017 – A successful field trip in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve north of Mexico City with Milan Janda, Michael Branstetter and Rubi Itzel, looking for ants, bees and of course skippers and beetles:

Left: The gorgeous skipper Astraptes alardus collected in a dense forest of Querétaro. Right: Beautiful river with lots of pyrgine skippers and brush-footed butterflies.

Collecting beetles at the light of our cabañas in Querétaro.

Left: Our little team near a waterfall in lowland Querétaro. Right: Good alpine habitat with some nice skippers like Piruna and charaxine nymphalids.

  • 10/2017 – I was invited by Milan Janda at LANASE ( to give a seminar during the conference Frontiers in Insect Genomics in Morelia, Mexico. You can find the recorded talks of all participants here.

  • 09/2017 – Our paper on the rediscovery and phylogenetic placement of the rare Ricksecker’s water scavenger beetle Hydrochara rickseckeri is out, check it out in the Publications page.

  • 08/2017 – Excellent fieldwork session  with a reduced team of the Kawahara lab and amazing local scientists in Veracruz near Zongolica and in Las Tuxtlas research station looking for skippers, moths and beetles. The collecting was as good as the food:

Left: Memphis proserpina collected at 1600m in the mountains above Zongolica. Right: The infamous Astraptes fulgerator, a (very) fast-flying gem from the forest

A very cool Callipogon longhorn chilling in the rainforest

Chilling at a roadside bar after collecting skippers and swallowtails near Zongolica

Identification (sometimes excruciating) of skippers and other leps before dinner with a young amateur entomologist that sometimes got the ID faster than the pros…

  • 07/2017 – Back from almost a month of intermittent collecting in the Alps and Corsica, with some really cool beetles and butterflies. Just a glimpse of it:

Collecting Netocia morio and other beetles attracted to thistles in Corsican mountains

Netocia morio in a wine trap near Oletta in Haute-Corse. These traps also allowed the capture of the large endemic ground beetle Percus corsicus

Fantastic locality for Cicindela gallica found above 2000m in the Alps. One of the tiger beetles collected in this trip to France along with C. hybrida, C. sylvicola and Calomera littoralis

Cicindela gallica shot by Robin Holler

A beautiful Colias (most likely C. phicomone) a few hundred meters higher (2500m) above the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard neat Italy.

  • 06/2017 – Our companion papers on the systematics and evolution of Hydrobiusini water beetles just came out in Systematic Entomology. Some very interesting findings about acoustic organs, dispersal-driven colonization of Gondwana and Hawaiian progression rule to check out in the Publications page! Here is a picture of Hydrobius fuscipes by Udo Schmidt:

  • 06/2017 – Our paper on very tiny microendemic weevils from New Caleodnia just came out in Royal Society Open Science. Some nice biogeographic patterns! Here is a picture of an Aussie Trigonopterus by Deb Yarrow:

  • 02/2017 – Our paper on the intricate biogeography of giant water scavenger beetles just came out in Journal of Biogeography, check it out in Publications. These big guys are very cool indeed, they might be one of the few examples of West Gondwana vicariance with a joint origin in Africa and South America followed by tectonic allopatric divergence. A nice picture of Tropisternus by Mark Yokoyama:


  • 01/2017 – Very excited to be joining the Kawahara Lab this month and start a new project on large-scale phylogenomics of skippers within the ButterflyNet community. See you soon Shortlab!


  • 10/2016 – Stephen’s paper on noterid water beetles is in press in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Pretty cool systematic study with a focus on the (confusing) performance of the recent k-means algorithm to partition molecular data. Here is a picture of Hydrocanthus taken by Udo Schmidt:


  • 08/2016 – Our paper revisiting the dating of the beetle tree-of-life is out and open access. We find a much older origin for the crown of the group and most larger clades.


  • 07/2016 – I am now on Twitter, check out my account @EmmanuelTouss1 for news on our research and sciency stuff. Thanks Andrew for the amazing Twitter advertisement:


  • 06/2016 – The fourth paper on Polyura just came out in Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. We are done revising this genus for the moment, Polyura attalus is back to species level and is officially the 34th species in the group. Check this beauty out (Picture Didier Descouens):

  • 06/2016 – Jérôme’s master thesis paper finally came out, and it came out real nice. This new molecular phylogeny of Colymbetinae with macroevolutionary analyses has just been published in Scientific Reports. Here is a picture of Rhantus suturalis taken by Jan Hamrsky, one the species of Colymbetinae included in this study, and on which I worked in the early stage of my PhD.

  • 04/2016 – April is a productive month, three of our papers on aquatic beetles and tropical butterflies just came out. Check these out on the Publications page.


  • 03/2016 – We came back from our field trip in Suriname with lots of aquatic beetles. A very successful expedition that was entirely filmed by a KU student. The documentary and pictures should be available in the next few months. Great to be back in the jungle!

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  • 01/2016 – I went to Munich the 15th of January where I received the 17th Hintelmann award, a price for achievements in systematics and evolution. A fantastic honor made possible by the generosity of Frau Hintelmann.


  • 05/2015 – A large media coverage (New York Times, BBC, Weekend Argus…) for our last paper on the amazing Capelatus pyrkei. This newly described beetle from South Africa is rather isolated as its closest relatives live in Europe and New Guinea:


Capelatus 2

  • 12/2014 – We just learned that our latest paper on the evolution of diving beetles in Australia during the Cenozoic will be featured on the cover of the journal Systematic Biology:


  • 03/2014 – In our last paper we found that Trigonopterus beetles from Bali are surprisingly more related to their cousins from the East than to Javanese ones despite the geographic affinity of Bali and Java. This discovery has captured the attention of big journals in Germany (Die Welt, Der Spiegel…):

Balinese TrigonopterusBalinese Trigonopterus 2

  • 01/2013 – Our paper on the temporal and geographic evolution of the emblematic peacock swallowtail butterflies has been picked to feature the cover of the journal Cladistics:

Cover image Cladistics