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Heteroptera

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The modern history of the Heteroptera collections of the American Museum begins with the hiring of Pedro Wygodzinksy in 1963. At that time the collections comprised about 100,000 specimens, most of them belonging to the larger, more obvious groups such as Pentatomoidea and Coreoidea. Wygodzinsky did three things that greatly expanded the size and scope of the collections. First, he brought with him from Argentina a large collection of Reduviidae from the Neotropics which became the core of the AMNH collection in that group. Second, he acquired via exchange the Heteroptera collections of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which brought to the AMNH a variety of type specimens, Meyer-Dur material from Switzerland, and representatives of a variety of taxa from localities scattered around the world. Finally, Wygodzinsky enriched the collections in groups such as Enicocephalomorpha, Dipsocoromorpha, and Aradidae through purchase, personal fieldwork, gift, and exchange. Notable in this regard is the collection of Dipsocoromorpha assembled by Michael Emsley.

 Randall Schuh joined the AMNH staff in 1974 and assumed responsibility for the Heteroptera collections. He brought with him a substantial collection of true bugs, including Miridae from South Africa and a broad range of true bugs from the Neotropics. Schuh also donated the collection of his late father Joe Schuh from Western North America, accepted the donation by John T. Polhemus of the Harold Chapman collection of water bugs and large numbers of other specimens belonging to the Gerromoprha and Nepomorpha. In 1987 the AMNH purchased the collection of Rauno Linnavuori, an acquisition that included more than 780 type specimens and substantially broadened coverage from Africa and the Middle East through the addition of approximately 75,000 specimens. The late James A. Slater donated his collection of at least 75,000 true bugs to the AMNH over a series of years, beginning in 1990. This collection includes represenatives in most families of Heteroptera, with strongest coverage in the Lygaeoidea. Geographic coverage is strongest from southern Africa, but with Eastern North America and the Caribbean also well represented. In 2004 the AMNH purchased the collection of Igor Sienkiewicz, which added significantly to its holdings from Europe. Today the AMNH true bug collections comprise more than 800,000 specimens, representing 83 of the 85 currently recognized families. The size and breadth of the collections is rivaled only by those of the Smithsonian Institution.

Randall Schuh has conducted fieldwork in Andean South America, Western North America, Australia, and South Africa during his tenure at the AMNH. His efforts have focused heavily on the Miridae and Saldidae, but he has also added material in many other families.

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