Mario Cupello


Mario Cupello
Mario Cupello organizing some of the thousands of Ateuchus specimens gathered for his PhD project (April 2018, Curitiba, Brazil).<


Mario Cupello is an evolutionary biologist and entomologist whose speciality lies in the systematics of scarab beetles, particularly New World dung beetles (Coleoptera, Scarabaeinae). Apart from his empirical study of the diversity and evolution of scarabs, he is deeply interested in biogeography and biological nomenclature, evolutionary theory (especially the speciation process and sexual selection), and the philosophy of science, particularly topics related to systematics such as the so-called “species problem”, the homology definition, and the nature of biological classification.
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mario graduated in Biology (Zoology) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 2014 and completed his Master’s in Zoology at the National Museum/UFRJ in 2016. Since March 2018, Mario is doing his PhD at the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba, southern Brazil, with a thesis project dealing with a complete revision of the systematics and evolution of one of the richest and most abundant dung beetle genera in the New World, Ateuchus. He seeks to revise the alpha taxonomy of Ateuchus species through the study of museum specimens as well as to investigate their phylogenetic relationship and biogeographic history based on molecular, morphological, and distributional evidence. Mario is particularly interested, however, in understanding the participation of different lineages of Ateuchus in the key biogeographic event known as the Great American Biotic Interchange of the Neogene. Since Ateuchus is one of the dung beetle genera that originally evolved during the isolation of South America and later invaded the northern continent and there passed through an adaptive radiation, this genus seems to be an ideal candidate to be a “model taxon” for an investigation of dung beetle history during the GABI, and this is what Mario’s thesis ultimately seeks to investigate.
For his undergrad thesis, he worked on a revision and phylogenetic analysis of the South American dung beetle genus Gromphas, describing a new species from Brazil and Bolivia. For his Master’s, Mario switched from a paracoprid lineage to a telecoprid group, Canthon sensu lato. His dissertation dealt with a monographic revision of the genus Sylvicanthon in which the group had its species composition tripled, including the description of six new South American species. Moreover, he also reviewed the taxonomic history of Canthon sensu lato and discussed the current state of the group’s genus-level classification.
Most of Mario’s professional experience was gained at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the oldest natural history museum in the Western Hemisphere and where he worked first as an undergraduate student (2009–2014) than as a master’s student (2014–2016) and finally as an associate researcher (2016–2017). During all this time, he served as a volunteer assistant curator for the Scarabaeoidea collection, one of the largest of its kind in the country, and did fieldwork in several places in Brazil to enrich the institution’s collection. He also worked as a collection manager at the insect collection of the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá, Brazil (2016–2017), one of the richest scarab beetle collections in Latin America. He has visited a number of museums in other countries: Argentina, France, Germany, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

Apart from his PhD thesis, Mario is currently developing several other projects: (1) with Claudia Medina and Xiomara Villalba, both at the Instituto Humboldt, Colombia, he is revising the taxonomy of the subgenus Canthon (Glaphyrocanthon); with Fernando Z. Vaz-de-Mello, Mario is (2) revising the dung beetle genera Streblopus, a possible case of transatlantic dispersal from Africa to South America during the Neogene, (3) Bolbites, a taxon highly variable in colour across its distribution in the grasslands of South America and that has a disputed phylogenetic placement, (4) and Holocanthon and Anisocanthon, two very peculiar lineages of Canthon sensu lato endemic to South America. Also with Vaz-de-Mello, he has started a series of papers dealing with the type material of South American Scarabaeinae deposited in European museums, which already has two parts finished and several more to come. Finally, a historical study of the scarab type specimens described by Johan Christian Fabricius (1745–1808) and Guillaume-Antoine Olivier (1756–1814) housed at the Natural History Museum, London, is presently being developed by Mario and the museum’s Coleoptera curator, Max Barclay.


Mario Cupello
Federal University of Paraná, Department of Zoology
Laboratory of Systematics and Bioecology of Coleoptera
Centro Politécnico, Jardim das Américas, 81.531-980
Curitiba, PR, BRAZIL





1- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (in press) A monographic revision of the Neotropical dung beetle genus Sylvicanthon Halffter & Martínez, 1977 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Deltochilini), including a reappraisal of the taxonomic history of “Canthon sensu lato”. European Journal of Taxonomy.

2- Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. & Cupello, M. (in press) The type specimens of South American dung beetles, part I: On the species described in the genus Canthon Honffmannsegg, 1817 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) by the German entomologist Adolf Schmidt (1856–1923). Spixiana.

3- Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. & Cupello, M. (2018) The type specimens of South American dung beetles, Part II: The species described by the Austrian coleopterist Ludwig Redtenbacher (1814–1876) in the 1868 part of the “Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde” (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae). Annalen des naturhistorischen Museums in Wien, series B, 120, 41–58.

4- Cupello, M. (2018) On the type species of the New World dung beetle genus Canthidium Erichson, 1847 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae), with an annotated checklist of species. Zootaxa, 4388, 451–486.

5- Monné, M.A., Monné, M.L., Botero, J.P., Machado, V.S., Carelli, A., Cupello, M. & Souza, R. (2017) Espécies de Cerambycidae, Disteniidae e Vesperidae (Insecta, Coleoptera) registradas no estado do Mato Grosso do Sul. Iheringia, Série Zoológica, 107, 1–9.

6- Maldaner, M.E., Cupello, M., Ferreira, D.C. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2017) Type specimens and names assigned to Coprophanaeus (Megaphanaeus) d’Olsoufieff, 1924, the largest New World dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Phanaeini). Zootaxa, 4272, 83–102.

7- Cupello, M. & Génier, F. (2017) Dendropaemon nomenclature revisited: On the Unavailability of “Onthoecus Lacordaire, 1856” (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Phanaeini). The Coleopterists Bulletin, 71, 821–824.

8- Cupello, M., Rossini, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2016) On the type species of the South American dung beetle genus Chalcocopris Burmeister, 1846 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae), with some comments on the type locality of C. hesperus (Olivier, 1789). Zootaxa, 4061 (3), 274-276.

9- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2015)A new species and the phylogeny of the South American genus Gromphas Brullé, 1837 (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae, Phanaeini). Journal of Natural History (online edition), 1-27.

10- Botero, J.P. & Cupello, M. (2015) Cerambyx striatus Goeze, 1777 (currently Dorcadion glicyrrhizae striatum) and Cerambyx striatus Fabricius, 1787 (currently Chydarteres striatus) (Insecta, Coleoptera, Cerambycidae): proposed conservation of the specific names. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 72, 122˗128.

11- Monné, M.A. & Cupello, M. (2015) On the validity of some species names of South American longhorn beetles (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae). Zootaxa, 3981, 360˗366.

12- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2014) Correction of the type species of the South American genus Gromphas Brullé, 1837 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Phanaeini). Zootaxa, 3790, 399˗400.

13- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello (2014) Revalidation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest dung beetle species Coprophanaeus (Metallophanaeus) machadoi (Pereira & d’Andretta, 1955) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Phanaeini) based on morphological and distributional evidence. Zootaxa, 3869, 435˗451.

14- Cupello, M. (2013) Onitis aeruginosus Klug, 1855 (Insecta, Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae): proposed conservation of the specific name. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 70, 15˗18.

15- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2013) Taxonomic revision of the South American dung beetle genus Gromphas Brullé, 1837 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Phanaeini: Gromphadina). Zootaxa, 3722, 439˗482.

16- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2013) New evidence for the validity of Coprophanaeus (C.) terrali, Arnaud, 2002 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae: Phanaeini), a dung beetle from Brazil. Zootaxa, 3717, 359˗368.

17- Monné, M.L., Monné, M.A., Quintino, H.Y., Botero, J.P., Machado, V.S., Carelli, A., Simões, M.V.P. & Cupello, M. (2012) Inventário das espécies de Lamiinae (Insecta, Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) do Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, RJ, Brasil. Biota Neotropica, 12, 39˗76.

18- Machado, V.S., Botero, J.P., Carelli, A., Cupello, M., Quintino, H.Y., Simões, M.V.P. (2012) Host plants of Cerambycidae and Vesperidae (Coleoptera, Chrysomeloidea) from South America. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 56, 186˗198.

Conference Proceedings:
1- Cupello, M. & Vaz-de-Mello, F.Z. (2016) Sinopse das espécies de Eurysternus Dalman, 1824 (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae, Oniticellini) do Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, sudeste do Brasil.  In: Da-Silva, E.R., Passos, M.I.S, Aguiar, V.M., Lessa, C.S.S. & Coelho, L.B.N. (eds.) Anais do III Simpósio de Entomologia do Rio de Janeiro. Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Rio de Janeiro, pp. 36-55.

2- Machado, V.S., Botero, J., Carelli, A., Cupello, M., Quintino, H.Y., Simões, M.V.P. (2011) Contribuição ao conhecimento de plantas-hospedeiras de Cerambycidae e Vesperidae (Insecta, Coleoptera, Chrysomeloidea) da América do Sul. In: Congresso de Ecologia do Brasil, São Lourenço, Brazil.

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