Kevin Cortés Hernández
Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology, Arizona State University, Arizona, USA – 2020 to present
Master of Science in Biology, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico – 2020
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, Mexico – 2017
Systematics, weevil evolution, biodiversity, Neotropical Entiminae, Tanymecini of the New World.
My weevil story goes back to 2016 when I was still an undergraduate, when Leonardo Delgado, an incredible entomologist and my previous undergraduate co-advisor, hired me to do curatorial work in his beetle collection, which is mainly comprised of Mexican fauna. Among all beetle families, the morphology of weevils and their diversity of shapes and colors caught my attention the most. I especially became interested in the beauty of broad-nosed weevils (Curculionidae: Entiminae). The first time I saw an Hadromeropsis specimen I was astonished by those bright colors and its enormous front legs.
In 2017 I graduated with my bachelor's degree and I decided to study English on the weekends. With my savings as a curational assistant, I was able to get into a summer English course in Toronto, Canada. By that time, one of the basic sources to identify weevils at Leonardo’s collection was the Curculionidae chapter of the American Beetles by Robert (Bob) S. Anderson. A couple of weeks before departing to Canada, I had the idea to email Bob to ask if I could visit him at the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) in Ottawa. As I was getting more into weevils, I looked for graduate programs and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get more immersed in the weevil world. He kindly accepted and suggested visiting Juan J. Morrone, that he might have been interested in having graduate students at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Juan J. Morrone was happy with the idea of having me as a student If I was accepted into the graduate program. When I met Bob, I shared my interest and enthusiasm in Neotropical weevils with special reference to Hadromeropsis and Tanymecini-related genera. He showed me the collection, gave me most of Anne Howden's literature on the tribe Tanymecini, and shared his advice on possible masters' projects with the willingness of having me as a visiting graduate student the next time.
In 2018, I was accepted into a Masters's program in Biological Sciences, in the area of Systematics at UNAM under the supervision of Juan J. Morrone. I was finally on the track to formally study broad-nosed weevils. As a master’s student, I focused on Neotropical Tanymecini. My main goals were to evaluate the monophyly of the genus Isodacrys (previously revised by Anne Howden), species relationships, and discuss the position of Isodacrys within Tanymecini, based on adult morphology. As part of my thesis project I received a grant from UNAM to visit the CMN, where Howdens’ collection is housed. I also visited the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes (CNC) to study type specimens. During my time in Ottawa, I worked with Bob Anderson on the description of two new species of Isodrusus. With the specimens borrowed from several collections for my masters’ project, and together with Juan J. Morrone, we were able to work on a key to the Mexican genera of Tanymecini, which includes a brief synopsis of the genera and the list of species recorded from Mexico.
In 2020, I was accepted in the Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. program offered at Arizona State University (ASU) at Nico Franz’s lab. Currently, my project focuses on the systematics of the New World Tanymecini. The tribe Tanymecini (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Entiminae) lacks any demonstrable autapomorphy and its concept and composition are highly uncertain and unstable. Following Alonso-Zarazaga & Lyal's scheme (1999), Tanymecini contains ~95 genera worldwide subcategorized into three subtribes: Piazomina (47 genera: Africa, Asia, and Oceania), Tainophthalmina (7 genera: Europe and Asia), and Tanymecina (41 genera: worldwide distributed), plus four incertae sedis genera. The New World Tanymecini are represented only by members of the subtribe Tanymecina, with 16 native genera and four species of the widespread genus Tanymecus, making a rough total of 320 described species in the American continent.
My goal is to use morphological evidence, together with molecular information, to assess the phylogenetic relationships of the New World Tanymecini genera, discuss their evolutionary history and provide a foundation for genus level delimitation and tribal position.