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Margarita Ervandovna Ter-Minassian was an eminent coleopterist of our country, a specialist of the world fame in such important taxa as seed beetles (Brucidae), Attelabidae and Curculionidae. M.E. Ter-Minassian worked at the Zoological Institute for 43 years until her retirement in 1986 and continued working on voluntary basis until the last year of her life. Her outstanding abilities of a teacher and a researcher, her firm civic position, courage, acute mind, which, with years and experience, gave rise to her rare wisdom, her kindness, dedication to her cause, devotion to people, ardent love for her country were characteristic features of that outstanding personality.
M.E. Ter-Minassian was born on 16 May 1910 in Leipzig. In 1926 she finished secondary school in Echmiadzin and entered Erevan University. In 1932 M.E. Ter-Minassian began her post-graduate study at the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences and in 1935 she defended dissertation for the degree Kandidat of Sciences (PhD) on steppe and semi-desert fauna of weevils of Armenia and Nakhichevan and was listed on the staff of the Zoological Institute. Three years later M.E. Ter-Minassian moved to Erevan and worked at the Zoological Institute of the Armenian Academy of Sciences until 1950, and then returned to Leningrad for ever.
M.E. Ter-Minassian has contributed greatly to systematics and faunal studies of seed beetles, Attelabidae, Apionidae and Curculionidae. Her first works on the difficult and insufficiently known genus Anthonomus Germ. were highly evaluated by her scientific supervisors A.N. Reichardt and F.K. Lukjanovitsh. After publication of the key to species of the genus Anthonomus of the USSR fauna M.E. Ter-Minassian wrote reviews of the genera Rhynchaenus Clairv., Curculio L. and Trachodes Germ., supplementing considerably the knowledge of these genera. Favourite groups of M.E. Ter-Minassian were bruchids, Attelabidae covered in her dissertation for Scientific Degree of Doctor of Biological Sciences (Doctor of Science ) defended in 1944 and also Apionidae and Lixinae (=Cleoninae). Dealing with these groups are a large part of publications of M.E. Ter-Minassian including 4 monographs - volumes of the Fauna of the USSR on seed beetles and Attelabidae, and Keys to the Fauna of the USSR (Lixini in 1967 and Cleonini in 1988). In these works M.E. Ter-Minassian described more than 150 new species and 3 new genera. Three new genera are established in the tribe of Cleonini for very peculiar species - endemics of Irano-Turanian Province (Pseudisomerus mangystavicus T.-M. and Afghanocleonus haarloevi Voss) and Gobi Province (Mongolocleonus gobiensis Voss) of the Sahara-Gobi Desert Region. Works of M.E. Ter-Minassian on lixines are perhaps the major part of her creative legacy. Apart from their important biocoenotic and economic role Cleonini are one of the species-richest and peculiar faunal components of arid landscapes in the Palaearctic. Many species of Cleonini are real "adornment" of the steppes and deserts. The collection of Cleonini at the Zoological Institute created to a large extent by efforts of M.E. Ter-Minassian is unrivalled in the world in richness. The genus Stephanocleonus Motsch. characterized by the largest number of species in the tribe Cleonini (more than 100 species) has a significant place in this collection. M.E. Ter-Minassian worked on that genus for more than 20 years. Prof. L.V. Arnoldi at the session of the scientific council of the Zoological Institute referred to her review of the genus Stephanocleonus as a scientific deed, and this statement reflects precisely complexity of the work and its importance for the study of Siberia and Central Asia.
M.E. Ter-Minassian was deeply respected by her colleagues all over the world and was in correspondence with her colleagues sending material on requests of specialists and permanently receiving material on different groups of weevils in the USSR. Several Kandidat's dissertations [PhD] were defended under her supervision including a dissertation on the fauna of southern Tajikistan and the Far East, that filled the largest gaps of knowledge on the fauna of the USSR. With her assistance and under her supervision studies were also fulfilled of weevil fauna of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Rostov Province, Kalmykia, and Mordovia. M.E. Ter-Minassian regarded faunal studies as the best form of training of specialists in systematics of weevils providing extensive knowledge of the group and formation of general biological outlook. It would be impossible to imagine a better supervisor for her post-graduate students. An absolutely orderly and responsible person, M.E. Ter-Minassian could not even admit that her student would not fulfil work in time, no one could even think of doing otherwise. She was a demanding teacher, but she never postponed answers to the questions of post-graduate students to the next day. Those who had the luck to be students of M.E. Ter-Minassian always recollect with gratitude that outstanding person.
B. Korotyayev, November 1999
From the publication
in the journal "Entomologicheskoye obozreniye"
Vol. 74, No. 4.
(Medvedev, Korotyaev, 1995)
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