The Kuril Islands constitute the only large island archipelago in Russia. Situated in middle latitudes and far from the Asian continent, the unique environment of the islands has attracted the attention of many investigators. A systematic and comprehensive study of the Kuril Islands by Soviet scientists began soon after the Great Patriotic War, when the islands were once again annexed to the USSR. Our knowledge of the flora and fauna of the Archipelago has been augmented since then, but many groups of animals, including the insects, remain insufficiently studied. The island entomofauna is of great interest from faunal, ecological, and zoogeographic perspectives. It is also of substantial interest for the resolution of some general theoretical problems relating to the process of formation of biogeocenoses, speciation, the evolution of certain faunal complexes, and, finally, for an explanation of the origin of the entomofauna of the islands specifically, as well as an understanding of the historical zoogeography of the entomofauna of the Asian Far East as a whole.

An attempt has been made in this book to illuminate the general character and particularities of the entomofauna of the Kuril Archipelago as exemplified by some of the best studied insect families and orders. But it does not contain complete faunal lists of the known insect species of the islands, and in this sense cannot be regarded as a faunal compendium. The study was carried out in the Entomology Laboratory of the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences of the Far Eastern affiliate of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR [today the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far East Branch].

Field investigations on the Kuril Islands were conducted in 1961 through 1964 using strip and eco-area methods. Seven of the largest islands were encompassed by strip investigations: Shikotan, Kunashir, Iturup, Urup, Simushir, Paramushir, and Shumshu. Kunashir, Shikotan, and Iturup were surveyed with particular care. Material was collected in various habitats of the Okhotsk and Pacific ocean littoral zones of the islands in order to elucidate the species composition, distribution, and ecological restriction of the insects. Major volcanoes were ascended: Mendeleev on Kunashir Island, Atsonupuri on Iturup (ascended twice), and Ebeko on Paramushir (ascended twice). Insects were light-trapped at a number of sites using standard and ultraviolet incandescent lamps. The eco-area surveys were carried out in 1962 on the southwestern littoral zone of Kunashir (environs of Alekhino village) in dark broad-leaved coniferous forests distinguished by an abundance of southern forms of plants and animals. The biology of a number of species of various groups of insects was studied. Their trophic linkages and the entomological complexes associated with diverse types of forest (as well as with specific island habitats, such as bamboo stands, near-fumarole areas, marine littoral zones, etc.) were defined more precisely. In addition to our own collections and observations--which are the primary basis for the present work and which made it possible to develop a concept of the ecological and geographic peculiarities of the Kuril entomofauna--we consulted all available scientific literature, both domestic and foreign, as well as the collections of the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences. We also examined the collections of a number of colleagues (V. A. Nechaev, G. S. Lafer, G. S. Zolotarenko, V. V. Nikolaev, and A. K. Tsimbalyuk among others) who worked on the Kuril Islands with us concurrently or in subsequent years.

The author's previous work on Sakhalin (1949-1955) and a brief, but unusually productive, visit to Japan (Honshu and Hokkaido) in August and September 1966 aided significantly in forming a better understanding of the interrelationships of the insect faunas of these geographically closely situated island territories. Conclusions presented here regarding the character of the entomofauna of the Kuril Islands, its ecological and zoogeographic peculiarities, origin, and formation, are a result of a correlation and analysis of information from all these sources.

In addition to the author, the following individuals participated in the field investigations: Professor A. I. Kurentsov, junior research assistant Z. A. Konovalova, and senior laboratory assistants N. A. Azarova, A. N. Kupyanskaya, and S. P. Safronova. Systematists and specialists in various insect groups from a number of scientific institutions whose names are cited in the text provided a great deal of help in the identification of the material; joint studies were published with some of them. I benefited from the advice of A. I. Kurentsov, G. I. Bei-Bienko, G. A. Anufriev, I. M. Kerzhner, O. L. Kryzhanovskiy, S. I. Medvedev, L. N. Medvedev, D. V. Panfilov, and other specialists in the preparation and writing of the general chapters, and special sections on the orthopteroid insects, hemipterans, cicadans, ground beetles, lamellicorns, leaf-beetles, and bumblebees. N. A. Azarova did much of the technical work on the analysis of the collection materials and the preparation of the manuscript for printing. The original drawings, diagrams, and maps were done by the artist, S. P. Safronova. I wish to express my heartfelt and profound gratitude to all the colleagues and comrades who helped me in carrying out the present study. I am also very grateful to the Japanese entomologists Akira Nobuchi and Satoru Kuwayama, who sent me comparative material of bark-beetles and long-horned beetles as well as Japanese literature on the Kuril Islands, and to D. L. Gressitt for refining the identification of some species of Japanese long-horned beetles.


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