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With more that 350,000 species the Coleoptera is the most speciose group of organisms on the planet. The AMNH collection includes about two million beetles representing most of the families. Geographically the collection is strongest in the New World, but has representatives from many other parts of the world. Taxonomic strengths of the collection, built primarily according to the interests of resident coleopterists, include the Carabidae, Scarabaeidae, Staphylinidae, Buprestidae, Tenebrionidae, Cerambycidae, Chrysomelidae, and Curculionidae, but most beetle families are represented, some better than others.
There have been four curators of the Coleoptera in the last 88 years. The first was Andrew J. Mutchler, whose curatorial tenure extended from 1921 to 1938, was interested in many groups of beetles and published on more than 15 families. Richard E. Blackwelder was a curator from 1938 to 1940 and studied staphylinid beetles.
The next curator of beetles was Mont Cazier who arrived in 1941 and moved on in 1962. His interests focused primarily on tiger beetles, but he also worked on Scarabaeidae and Buprestidae and published articles on cerambycids and clerids. Mont inspired many people to take up the study of beetles. One of the most notable and prolific publishers to be inspired to study beetles by Mont Cazier was Patricia Vaurie. Her first article appeared in 1948 and her last several on curculionids and laguriids posthumously in 1982. She published primarily on scarabs and weevils, but also on lizard beetles, tiger beetles, and checkered beetles.
Lee Herman, the fourth AMNH curator of Coleoptera, was hired to study staphylinids and care for the collection of beetles. When Herman arrived the staphylinid collection consisted of 55 drawers of specimens; to date we have over 900. Herman published a series of long articles on Bledius and shorter ones on other genera. Most of his efforts in recent years have gone to a catalog of the Staphylinidae and revisions of various genera of the Paederinae. He is now working toward completion of a generic revision of the Paederinae.