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21 April 2022 Antoine Senglet (10.IX.1927 - 29.III.2015), a little-known Swiss entomologist and arachnologist
Peter J. Schwendinger, Christian Monnerat
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It is unusual to write an obituary seven years after the death of a person, but we had only insufficient biographical data about Antoine Senglet until recently. Since we have received several requests for information about him during the last few years (mostly in connection with studies on spiders from Iran), and considering his long-lasting association with the Natural History Museum of Geneva (MHNG) and his remarkable contribution to its arthropod collections, we feel that there is a need to publish a short notice about his life and his scientific achievements.

Antoine Senglet was born on 19 September 1927 in the village of Le Muids (today Arzier-Le Muids), in the French-speaking Swiss canton of Vaud. He was very proud of his “Romand” identity. In his manuscripts submitted to the “Revue suisse de Zoologie” he usually mentioned “Romandie” in his postal address, which the subject editor had to replace with “Switzerland” in order to avoid any possible confusion with “Roumanie = Romania” and because the “Romandie” is not a country but a linguistically defined region. After undergoing primary education, young Antoine attended the “Ecole d'horticulture de Châtelaine” which then was moved to Jussy (also in the canton of Geneva) and became the “Haute école du paysage, d'ingénierie et d'architecture de Lullier”. He subsequently went to work as a horticulturist in England and, when back in Geneva, took up various other jobs, including salesman for vacuum cleaners, pilot of small public boats (called “Mouettes genevoises”) on Lake Geneva, and coalman. The latter he pursued until his retirement in 1993, when he moved to the village of Vich in the canton of Vaud to live in the house of his mother. He had a great interest in zoology, computers and all things technical, and since he received no formal academic education he became an autodidact. When one of us (PJS) first met A. Senglet in 1999, he arrived with a laptop holding a sophisticated self-programmed database (including detailed drawings and photographs of taxonomic characters) on the spider groups he was interested in.

Without the need to sustain a family (he had no wife or children, but a female companion later in his life), A. Senglet usually worked in Geneva in autumn and winter, and then took several months off in spring and/or summer to visit warmer countries and pursue his passion: collecting arthropods. Between 1962 and 1970 he assembled a considerable collection of Odonata from Morocco, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Switzerland, ex-Yugoslavia, and Greece. Surprisingly he never published anything on this collection or on other Odonata. In 1978 he sold the collection to the MHNG. He quite abruptly abandoned his interests in Odonata in favour of another, even deeper passion which he pursued for the rest of his life: Araneae. In 1971 he started to publish on faunistics and taxonomy of spiders, later he also turned to mating behaviour and coupling mechanisms between male and female copulatory organs. Between 1967 and 2013 he collected thousands (if not tens of thousands) of spiders in the southern half of Europe (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Switzerland, ex-Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey), Morocco, Iran and Afghanistan. In many of these countries he could – and had to – communicate with the locals in their own language. Apart from being francophone, he was fluent in English and Greek, and he had basic knowledge of German, Russian and Persian. In 1973 he made an agreement with Claude Besuchet (1930-2020) and Villy Aellen (1926-2000), former curator of the Department of Entomology 2 and former director of the MHNG, respectively, which provided the financial basis for two extensive collecting trips to Iran in 1973 and 1974, and one to Iran and Afghanistan in 1975. The MHNG purchased the beetles (about half of them meanwhile mounted on cardboard), ants, cockroaches, earwigs, springtails, millipedes, centipedes, mites, pseudoscorpions, and other groups (of which little material is present) that A. Senglet brought back from these trips, and he kept the spiders to himself. It is unclear whether he also collected Opiliones from Iran, a group that is not included in his collection. Three times A. Senglet drove all the way from Geneva to Iran (in these days more open to westerners than at the moment) and back again in a Renault R4, into which he squeezed not only his long legs but also a bed and a refrigerator, and out of which he operated by collecting by hand, with a Winkler/Moczarski eclector and with a backpack aspirator (= suction apparatus). All specimens were preserved in alcohol. The “non-spiders” were sorted and labelled by MHNG staff; the spiders (which he retained) were neatly labelled and separated to families by himself. A considerable portion of the spiders he also identified to species or genus level. In general his material is well preserved, often species are represented by large series from numerous localities, and geographical coordinates are given, which usually allow to identify localities even if their names have changed. When his private collection was donated to the MHNG and arrived on 15 August 2014, it looked overwhelming in terms of volume and specimen numbers, but actually it was all nicely prepared for being incorporated into the spider collection of the museum, a process now complete. Senglet himself published on some of the pholcid spiders he collected in Iran and Afghanistan (besides pholcids, tetragnathids and gnaphosids from the Mediterranean Region). Through the mediation of the MHNG several other colleagues have studied or are currently examining other parts of this collection: Bernhard Huber further pholcids, Andrei Tanasevitch the linyphiids, Dmitri Logunov the salticids, philodromids and some lycosids, and Alireza Zamani & co-authors most of the remaining spiders. Selvin Dashdamirov has studied Senglet's pseudoscorpions from Afghanistan and is currently working on those from Iran; Adrian Smolis & Dariusz Skarzynski published on Senglet's neanurid springtails from Iran; several coleopterologists published on Senglet's beetles from Iran and Afghanistan. Thus, the collections of A. Senglet have proved to be a treasure trove for various taxonomic groups; much has already been published on it – more will hopefully follow in the coming years. His sampling of the previously little-known spider fauna of Iran is of special scientific importance. Alireza Zamani (Tehran, Iran), who is currently working on this fauna for a Ph. D. project at the University of Turku (Finland) and who has examined all Iranian spiders available in scientific collections, rates Senglet's collection, though mostly taken from the northern part of the country, as by far the most extensive and diverse in the world.

Antoine Senglet in the early 1990s. Photo sent by A. Senglet to B. Huber in 1995.

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Antoine Senglet (left) and Andrei Tanasevitch (right; corresponding member of the MHNG) during a meeting in the spider collection of the MHNG on 21.XI.2008. Photo by P.J. Schwendinger.

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Antoine Senglet visited the MHNG whenever he needed to borrow specimens, deposit type specimens that he had described, pick up or bring back specimens which he borrowed from other museums and which were sent to the MHNG, discuss his manuscripts submitted to the “Revue suisse de Zoologie” with the editors, and when he had to take SEM-micrographs.

Back from a collecting trip to Greece in July 2013, A. Senglet suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered and which left him confined to a wheelchair. He was admitted to a care facility in Yens (canton of Vaud), and when he arrived there he demanded to be allowed to bring along his spider collection. Quite understandably this was refused – it would have completely filled his room. On 29 March 2015 he peacefully passed away listening to his beloved opera music. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered in the garden of his house. He will be remembered by his colleagues, friends and siblings (brother and sister) as a quiet and shy (though occasionally fairly outspoken), rational and dedicated person, and by the arachnological community as an exceptionally prolific collector and as an arachnologist who produced very detailed, high-quality illustrations and descriptions of taxonomic characters (non of his taxa names have so far been synonymized) and genital coupling mechanisms. His scientific legacy lasts on in the collections of the MHNG.

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Lilette Déglon (Morges, Vaud, Switzerland; A. Senglet's sister) and to Claire-Lise Bouquet Studer and Fernand Studer (Combe Varin, Neuchâtel, Switzerland; friends of A. Senglet since 1975) for providing biographical information. The latter two also took care of A. Senglet's spider collection after his stroke. Ivan Löbl (Veyrier, Geneva, Switzerland) kindly sent us a list of beetle species dedicated to A. Senglet and explained his association with the MHNG. Bernhard Huber (Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander König, Bonn, Germany) sent us a photo of A. Senglet and provided additional information. John Hollier (MHNG) checked the English text.

References

Appendices

Appendix 1: Scientific publications by A. Senglet

  • Huber B.A., Senglet A. 1997. Copulation with contralateral insertion in entelegyne spiders (Araneae: Entelegynae: Tetragnathidae). Netherlands Journal of Zoology 47(1): 99-102. DOI: 10.1163/156854297X00274

  • Senglet A. 1971. Note sur les Pholcidae (Arachn.) de Grèce. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 44(3-4): 345-359. DOI: 10.5169/seals-401666

  • SengletA.1973a(for1972).NotesurlesPachygnatha(Araneae: Tetragnathidae) de la péninsule ibérique. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 45(4): 301-305. DOI: 10.5169/seals-401693

  • Senglet A. 1973b (for 1972). Note sur les Spermophora (Araneae: Pholcidae) méditerranéens. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 45(4): 307-319. DOI: 10.5169/seals-401694

  • Senglet A. 1973c. Note sur Spermophora elevata Simon et description d'une nouvelle espèce: Spermophora simoni (Araneae: Pholcidae). Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris (3) 125: 683-686.

  • Senglet A. 1974. Pholcus nouveaux d'Iran (Araneae: Pholcidae). Revue suisse de Zoologie 81: 803-812.

  • Senglet A. 2001. Copulatory mechanisms in Hoplopholcus, Stygopholcus (revalidated), Pholcus, Spermophora and Spermophorides (Araneae, Pholcidae), with additional faunistic and taxonomic data. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 74(1-2): 43-67. DOI: 10.5169/seals-402796

  • Senglet A. 2004. Copulatory mechanisms in Zelotes, Drassyllus and Trachyzelotes (Araneae, Gnaphosidae), with additional faunistic and taxonomic data on species from southwest Europe. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 77(1-2): 87-119. DOI: 10.5169/seals-402861

  • Senglet A. 2008. New species of Pholcus and Spermophora (Pholcidae, Araneae) from Iran and Afghanistan, with notes on mating mechanisms. Revue suisse de Zoologie 115(2): 355-376. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.80432

  • Senglet A. 2011. New species in the Zelotes tenuis-group and new or little-known species in other Zelotes groups (Gnaphosidae, Araneae). Revue suisse de Zoologie 118: 513-559. DOI:10.5962/bhl.part.117816

  • Senglet A. 2012. Civizelotes new genus, and other new or little-known Zelotinae (Araneae, Gnaphosidae). Revue suisse de Zoologie 119(4): 501-528. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.150203

Appendix 2: Spider taxa described by A. Senglet

N.B.: The secondary types for all these species, and the primary type for all species except for Spermophorides simoni (holotype probably in the Muséum National d'Histoire naturelle in Paris), are deposited in the spider collection of the MHNG.

  • Civizelotes Senglet, 2012 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Civizelotes ibericus Senglet, 2012 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Civizelotes medianoides Senglet, 2012 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Heser hispanus Senglet, 2012 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Hoplopholcus minotaurinus Senglet, 1971 [Pholcidae]

  • Hoplopholcus minous Senglet, 1971 [Pholcidae]

  • Pachygnatha bonneti Senglet, 1973 [Tetragnathidae]

  • Pachygnatha simoni Senglet, 1973 [Tetragnathidae]

  • Pachygnatha sundevalli Senglet, 1973 [Tetragnathidae]

  • Pachygnatha tullgreni Senglet, 1973 [Tetragnathidae]

  • Pholcus afghanus Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus armeniacus Senglet, 1974 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus arsacius Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus caspius Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus cophenius Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus creticus Senglet, 1971 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus djelalabad Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus elymaeus Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus hyrcanus Senglet, 1974 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus hystaspus Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus kandahar Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus medicus Senglet, 1974 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus parthicus Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Pholcus persicus Senglet, 1974 [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophora persica Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophora senoculatoides Senglet, 2008 [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides huberti (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides mammata (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides mediterranea (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides petraea (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides simoni (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Spermophorides valentiana (Senglet, 1973) [Pholcidae]

  • Stygopholcus photophilus Senglet, 1971 [Pholcidae]

  • Zelotes alpujarraensis Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes baeticus Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes chaniaensis Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes cordubensis Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes egregioides Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes hispaliensis Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes laconicus Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

  • Zelotes pediculatoides Senglet, 2011 [Gnaphosidae]

Appendix 3: Arthropod taxa named after A. Senglet

  • Anemadus sengleti Giachino & Vailati, 1993 [Coleoptera, Leiodidae]

  • Bembidium sengleti Toledano & Marggi, 2007 [Coleoptera, Carabidae]

  • Brachygluta sengleti Besuchet, 1969 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Cataleptoneta sengleti (Brignoli, 1974) [Araneae, Leptonetidae]

  • Catops sengleti Giachino & Vailati, 2000 [Coleoptera, Leiodidae]

  • Crossopriza sengleti Huber, 2022 [Araneae, Pholcidae]

  • Deutonura sengleti Smolis, 2020 [Collembola, Neanuridae]

  • Epuraea sengleti Audisio, 1991 [Coleoptera, Nitidulidae]

  • Erigonoplus sengleti Tanasevitch, 2008 [Araneae, Linyphiidae]

  • Geostiba sengleti Pace, 1983 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Leptusa sengleti Pace, 1984 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Nargus sengleti Giachino & Vailati, 2000 [Coleoptera, Leiodidae]

  • Nazeris sengleti Bordoni, 1975 (a synonym of Nazeris ibericus C. Koch, 1940) [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Otiorhynchus sengleti Smreczyński, 1977 [Coleoptera, Curculionidae]

  • Pelicinus sengleti Platnick, Dupérré, Ott, Baehr & Kranz-Baltensperger, 2012 [Araneae, Oonopidae]

  • Persilena sengleti Zamani & Marusik, 2020 [Araneae, Agelenidae]

  • Plexippus sengleti Logunov, 2021 [Araneae, Salticidae]

  • Saitis sengleti (Metzner, 1999) [Araneae, Salticidae]

  • Sengletiola Zoia & Rampini, 1994 [Coleoptera, Leiodidae]

  • Sengletus Tanasevitch, 2008 [Araneae, Linyphiidae]

  • Stenus sengleti Puthz, 1971 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Tetartopeus sengleti Bordoni, 1984 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

  • Tychus sengleti Besuchet & Sabella, 1999 [Coleoptera, Staphylinidae]

Peter J. Schwendinger and Christian Monnerat "Antoine Senglet (10.IX.1927 - 29.III.2015), a little-known Swiss entomologist and arachnologist," Revue suisse de Zoologie 129(1), 119-122, (21 April 2022). https://doi.org/10.35929/RSZ.0065
Accepted: 24 November 2021; Published: 21 April 2022
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