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University of Tuebingen and RGU Forge Collaborative Research Partnership on Rove Beetle Ecology in Arunachal Pradesh

ITANAGAR-  In a significant development for scientific collaboration, the prestigious University of Tuebingen in Germany and Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) in India held a virtual MoU signing ceremony yesterday. The agreement aims to support joint research on the ecomorphological radiation of the rove beetle subfamily Steninae (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) in the unexplored region of Arunachal Pradesh. This collaboration brings together Prof. Oliver Betz from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology at the University of Tuebingen and Dr. Hiren Gogoi from the Department of Zoology at RGU.

The ceremony commenced with an introduction of the RGU members by Professor Saket Kushwaha, the Honourable Vice-Chancellor of RGU, and presentations from Prof. Oliver Betz and Prof. Klaus Harter. Prof. Betz, a renowned Professor of Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates at the Institute of Evolution & Ecology, is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking research on various aspects of invertebrate biology, particularly on Stenus and Dianous beetles. Prof. Harter, an eminent molecular botanist from the Center for Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Tubingen, also attended the ceremony as a representative from the Deans Office of the University of Tuebingen.

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Following the introductions, Dr. N.T. Rikam, the Registrar, Prof. Otem Padung, the Finance Officer, Prof. Sumpam Tangjang, the Dean of the Faculty of Life Science, and Dr. Daniel Mize, the Head of the Department of Zoology at RGU, delivered introductory lectures. The meeting was skillfully coordinated by Dr. David Pertin, the Joint Registrar (Academic) at RGU. Public relation Officer of RGU Moyir Riba also attended the program as other officials.

All participants, including the Vice-Chancellor of RGU, Prof. Betz, and Prof. Harter, expressed their appreciation for this international collaborative research initiative focusing on the Steninae group of Rove beetles (Staphylinidae) and their ecology in the unexplored Arunachal Himalaya region.

The Steninae subfamily comprises two genera, Stenus (with over 3000 species worldwide) and Dianous (with over 300 species worldwide). These beetles are optically oriented predators, primarily preying on springtails and other small arthropods.

Stenus beetles are characterized by their protruding elongated lower lip, which is equipped with sticky pads at the terminal end, enabling rapid prey capture. These beetles are commonly found in moist habitats, such as waterside environments or the humid litter and humus layer in tropical forests.

During the ceremony, Dr. Pertin presented the draft MoU, which was agreed upon by Prof. Betz and Prof. Klaus. As part of the agreement, RGU will provide Prof. Dr. Jörg Oliver Betz with an official research stay and laboratory space to closely collaborate with the Department of Zoology on the RGU campus.

The students and staff under Dr. Hiren Gogoi’s guidance will assist Prof. Dr. Jörg Oliver Betz during fieldwork in Arunachal Pradesh and adhere to a standardized collection protocol in compliance with the rules of the National Biodiversity Authority of India.

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The German side will ensure the availability of funds, which Prof. Dr. Jörg Oliver Betz will arrange from the home university or other sources. These funds will cover expenses, including payments to RGU collaborators involved in on-site collection and travel costs.

In addition to the MoU, an agreement for material transfer was also established, following the rules of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and the National Biodiversity Authority of India. Both parties have committed to abide by the laws of the Indian government.

Dr. Padung expressed the possibility of expanding the research focus to include other insect groups in Arunachal Pradesh, given the region’s rich biodiversity. The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks from Dr. Mize, the Head of the Department of Zoology at RGU.

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