A survey of the "red" weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea) of Israel

Weevils comprise about one fifth of the beetle fauna of Israel, although the status of knowledge on the weevil fauna of Israel is still unsatisfactory. Fewer than 400 species have been recorded to date, at least 600 species of weevils from Israel are deposited in the National Collection of Insects in Tel Aviv University, and I estimate the final number of Israeli species to be around 1000. However, some of the species can disappear before collected and recorded. The general tendency of the biodiversity decline can be clearly seen in the Israeli weevil fauna. After a survey of the material deposited in the TAU, accumulated during last 100 years and after about 20 years of beetle collecting in Israel, it is clear to me that many species have not been re-collected recently, or appear in much smaller numbers than in previous years. This tendency is particularly strong in the species inhabiting aquatic or near aquatic habitats, dunes and species with strongly restricted distribution (e.g. Mt. Hermon and Mt. Meron summits, desert oases, etc.), but also can be detected in species inhabiting regular habitats, such as Mediterranean oak forest. The decline of the biodiversity is the result of human activities, which sometimes are not only damaging the habitat, but also leading to it entire destruction and disappearance. Dr. Reuven Ortal, until recently of the Israel Nature and Park Authority, suggested several years ago, that in order to protect the entomofauna of Israel we have to survey it and produce a list of the endangered species. At least 200 species of weevils are candidates for declaration as endangered (according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of threatened species (2011), around 55 species are endemic to Israel or even to a particular area (e.g., Mt. Hermon). One species can probably be considered as extinct from Israel (although it is not endemic): Aorus anthracinus, known only from the Hula Valley and not recollected since its drainage in 1950ies. The recent study is intended to survey the endangered weevil species and to produce the "red" list for weevils in Israel.