The legacy of Juan Torres to entomological knowledge In Puerto Rico

Felipe N. Soto-Adames

Abstract


Juan Torres was a naturalist. His scientific contributions to entomological themes include studies on Lepidoptera, Isoptera and Hymenoptera, and cover the fields of systematics, biochemistry, blogeography and ecology. From his writings, however, It is clear that his major passion was natural history, particularly the study of ant natural history. His early research on the ecology of ant communities in Puerto Rico set the tone for what would become a lifetime dedicated to elucidating the factors that contribute to the establishment and persistence of ant communities on the Island. His studies on systematics were driven, in part, by a need to clarify the composition of the communities observed. His studies on biochemistry provided the first evidence that alkaloids in the skin of dendrobatid frogs are sequestered from the ants they prey upon. His works on natural history were synthesized in the evaluation of the Theory of Island Biogeography applied to the Bank of Puerto Rico. Also, Torres summarized, in separate publications, knowledge of the Luquillo Sierra Insects and the effects of hurricanes and cyclones on the distribution of Insects In Puerto Rico. The importance of several studies by Torres is evident by the number of researchers who cite his work. His research on ant colonies, published 33 years ago, has been cited more than 100 times, between 8 and 11 times just in the last year. The recent increase in the number of citations suggests that these works are reaching classic status. Due to his unexpected passing, at least one potentially important work, his treatment of the ants of Puerto Rico, was never published. We trust that students will look back at Juan Torres' entomological contributions as a source of inspiration leading to innovative research on the entomofauna of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

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