If done with care and thoroughness, catalogs, as opposed to checklists, can be valuable tools for summarizing taxonomic, nomenclatural, distributional, and literature information about a given group. This volume of the Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera has been expertly brought to fruition and is a genuinely wonderful volume of what the editors call “structured knowledge.” Structure, hence enhanced information retrieval, is given to 250 years of discovery and documentation of Palaearctic beetles, thus providing us with a modern snapshot of biodiversity information for a broad geographic area.
This volume is the third in a massive undertaking, and the entire series, when completed, will serve as a benchmark for many decades to come. Volume 1 (2003, 819 pp.) dealt with the Archostemata, Myxophaga, and Adephaga. Volume 2 (2004, 942 pp.) covered the Hydrophiloidea and Staphylinoidea. Volume 4 (2007, 935 pp.) treats the Elateroidea, Derodontoidea, Bostrichoidea, Lymexyloidea, Cleroidea, and Cucujoidea. Eight volumes (with contributions of about 100 authors) are planned, and they will review all of the approximately 100,000 species of beetles known from the Palaearctic Realm.
Previously, the only catalog to the Coleoptera of the world was Junk and Schenkling’s Coleopterorum Catalogus (1910–1940), but it is woefully out of date. Still, it remains the only source of comprehensive taxonomic information for many families of beetles. The ambitious aim of the new catalog is to provide (1) a complete list of available names (both valid and invalid) of Palaearctic beetles with their correct orthography and publication dates, (2) a complete list of verified references to primary descriptions, and (3) meaningful distributions. The editors are quick to point out that, for the purposes of the catalog, the Palaearctic Region includes some areas that have previously been considered part of the Afrotropical, Oriental, and Pacific Realms. The introduction clearly explains the limits of the region and the rationale for redefining it.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/brett_ratcliffe/52/