Saturday, November 14, 2015

Wanted: Aquatic entomology + biodiversity informatics masters student

Here's the announcement that was mention at the ECN meeting and elsewhere:

A masters student interested in aquatic entomology, museum science, and biodiversity informatics is being sought for fall, 2016. The position is supported by a 3 yr. National Science Foundation Collections in Support of Biological Research grant to Drs. DeWalt, Dmitriev, and Yoder. The home institution will be the Department of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the student will study in the laboratory of Dr. R. Edward DeWalt of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS).

The general thesis topic is an analysis of repeated patterns of species distribution for water quality sensitive mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies within the midwestern USA area. The student will examine factors such as species traits and landscape variables to explain the distribution patterns. Coursework within the Department of Entomology will promote interaction with world class entomologists. Interaction with a burgeoning biodiversity informatics group at the INHS and curators at the INHS Insect Collection will promote competence in modern museum science ranging from field work to computer coding for manipulation and analysis of digitized specimen data.

The student will be expected to attend at least one iDigBio workshop, conduct extended fieldwork in rugged locations, present results at international meetings, and publish results of the thesis in peer reviewed journals.

Generous support for the student as a research assistant is provided for at least 2 yr. Monthly wages total $2296 and are available for up to 11 mo./yr. Tuition and most fees are waived, but approximately $500/semester in fees remain. University health care is provided. Given the reasonable cost of living in the Champaign-Urbana area, we believe you will find that this level of support compares very favorably with stipends offered by other institutions.

Apply by January 1, 2016 to the Entomology Department Admissions Committee at: http://www.life.illinois.edu/entomology/admissions.html.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Gryloblattodea Species File

I have been updating Grylloblattodea Species File (GSF) since December 11, 2014, completing 163 hours of input on April 15, 2015.  What follows are some details of this work.

As of 1998, Grylloblattodea families have been placed in three infraorders.  Eleven families remain incertae sedis as to infraorder, and 18 genera are incertae sedis as to family.  There is only one extant family of Grylloblattodea and that family currently contains 5 genera and 31 species.  To update this family I added one genus and four new species.  All accompanying authors, references, publications, and citations were added to the database as well as the holotype specimen records for three of the four new species.  Any publicly available pdfs of papers were attached to the database.

The vast majority of my hours were spent updating the fossil taxa of GSF of which there are now 49 families, 280 genera, and 541 species.  There are now 306 holotype specimen records (54%) in the GSF; the literature with the information for all remaining species holotypes was not freely available online.  With additional time, many of the papers might be available through interlibrary loan and further holotype records could be input.  I do believe all other taxonomic levels of fossil taxa are current and complete.  All accompanying authors, references, publications, and citations were added to the database and any publicly available pdfs of papers were attached to the database.  

The GSF now contains 117 authors, 117 publications, 246 references, and 1,687 citations.  In the interests of time, not all author contact information and publication address details are complete as this information can be very time-consuming to locate.  There are also now 25 depositories in the database.

Interestingly, the Tree of Life webpage (http://tolweb.org/Grylloblattidae) states that fossil Grylloblattids are unknown!  Extant Grylloblattids are apterous and much, if not all, of the fossil Gylloblattid taxonomy is based upon wing venation. 


Left: Grylloblattodea: Elmopterum rotundum BĂ©thoux and Beckemeyer 2007

Clearly, workers in the field have moved many fossils out of the broader group Protorthoptera and into a more narrowly defined group of extinct Grylloblattodea.  The most recent summations of the systematics of the order may be found in Schoville, 2014 and Wipfler et al., 2014. 

I believe the GSF is the most current and complete database of Grylloblattodea available online and ready for a professional in the group to take over.  All inquiries about doing so should be directed to Ed DeWalt (dewalt@illinois.edu).