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Scarab Central


TEAM SCARAB NSF-PEET 2
Final Report (2002-2008)
 

Executive Summary

Funding from NSF-PEET2 provided systematics training for ten students and one post doc at the MS, PhD, and undergraduate levels (see discussion under “Training and Development”). A total of 105 peer-reviewed, scientific publications were produced by PEET students and PIs. Several additional publications are in press and in preparation. Among these are papers published on scarab systematics and biology, including nomenclature, behavior, revisions, phylogeny, fossils, larvae, taxonomy, biogeography, and ecology. PEET funding also contributed to the publication of scientific papers on weevil systematics (1 publication) and leech systematics (1 publication). Published works involved the participation of 50 collaborators, 18 of whom were international collaborators from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Italy, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. The following scientific contributions are of note:
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PEET 2
Monographs and Revisions
23
Syntheses of higher-level groups
22
New species described
175
New genera described
26
Larval genera new to science described
9
Larval species new to science described
16
New fossil species described
1

.

In addition to scientific publications, PEET students and PIs presented research findings at national and international conferences (55 presentations). PEET students received six fellowships ($219,000) and two international honors. PEET personnel garnered $71,378 in new, internal University funds that were used to further research on the project.  A total of $2,532,474 was obtained in extramural funding for conducting beetle research, including two NSF BS&I grants and two grants from Fundacion BBVA, Spain.  PEET trainees successfully competed for two prestigious fellowships from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada ($80,000 for Post Doctoral and $105,000 for Doctoral). 
            Field research and collecting in Chile, Argentina, and Belize were used to train students in obtaining permits, collecting methods, and international collaboration (see http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/trips.html). Research visits to national museums in Paris, London, Belgium, and Berlin helped train students broadly in systematics and taxonomy.  PEET training helped to provide a solid foundation for Smith and Ocampo’s NSF BS&I grant (DEB 0342189; April 2004). 
            Six months after the initiation of this grant, the University of Nebraska State Museum was the target of University budget reductions. A proposed budget cut of $1,378,086 was announced March 10, 2003 and included elimination of tenured faculty, research collections, collection managers, scientific technicians, and staff.  All Museum personnel were immediately notified of their dismissal.  Our laboratory was greatly affected by these cuts—including students, collections managers, curators, and collections.  Our museum was among the first in a rash of natural history museum cuts across the globe, a trend that continues.  Additionally, the UNL budget cut was among the first assault against tenured faculty in the nation.  Concerned people across the state, nation, and globe banded together against the proposed museum cuts.  Banding together, it was demonstrated that proposed budget reductions would: 1) eliminate world-wide life sciences resources that are necessary for addressing global issues, 2) collapse research programs at UNL that rely on Museum collections and staff, 3) diminish informal science education in the state, 4) undermine graduate and undergraduate education by eliminating faculty who teach and mentor students, and 5) reduce the feasibility for obtaining external funding across UNL by eliminating an essential resource.  Publicity on the proposed cuts at UNL included top journals in the sciences and national newspapers: Science (Stokstad, E.  2003.  Nebraska husks research to ease budget squeeze.  Science 300: 35), Nature (Dalton, R.  2003. Natural history collections in crisis as funding is slashed. Nature 423: 575), The American Scientist (Raven, P.  2003.  Biodiversity and the Future.  American Scientist 91: 382), The Chronicle of Higher Education (Fogg, P. 2003.  Nebraska puts museum professors on endangered species list.  The Chronicle of Higher Education 69: A18-20), The Christian Science Monitor (Stern, S.  2003.  The unkindest cuts.  The Christian Science Monitor, August 26, 2003), and USA Today (Vergano, D.  2003.  Natural science at a loss.  USA Today, April 16, 2003).  The impact of museum cuts such as the proposed cut at UNL continues to reverberate in the community (eg., Winker, K. 2004.  Natural history museums in a postbiodiversity era.  BioScience 54: 455-459; Moshman, D.  2004.  Tenure under sneak attack at UNL. Lincoln Journal Star, April 10, 2004; Seravalli, R. 2004.  Firings may have been age discriminatory.  Daily Nebraskan March 24, 2004; Natural Science Collection Alliance. 2008. NSCA sends letter to UNLV. NCSA, March 19, 2008).  Due to strong assistance from the scientific community and the public, the battle resulted in some success.  Five (out of eight proposed for elimination) tenured faculty were retained but transferred from the Museum to their affinal departments, four (out of six proposed for elimination) collection managers were retained, three (out of nine proposed for elimination) support staff were retained, and all collections are currently retained (although anthropology is still in jeopardy).  At least six months of research productivity were lost as a result of efforts to save the Museum.  However, Team Scarab was still intact and productive, and we obtained newly renovated space for the Museum’s “Biodiversity Synthesis Laboratory” for molecular research, DNA vouchering, and phylogenetic analyses (NSF-MUE by Jameson and Ocampo entitled, “Biodiversity Synthesis Laboratory: A Multi-User Resource Lab at the University of Nebraska State Museum”).
            Partnerships have been created with several scientific working groups. Members of Team Scarab are collaborators on the NSF sponsored "Assembling the Beetle Tree of Life" (PIs B. Farrell, D. Maddison, A. Slipinski, and M. Whiting; see http://insects.oeb.harvard.edu/ATOL/index.htm) and comprise the Scarabaeoidea TWIG, thus contributing to our knowledge of the evolution and diversification of the largest and most diverse branch of life.  Our collaboration with the Scarabaeinae Research Network (see http://216.73.242.84/scarabnet/), an NSF-funded group that promotes conservation assessment and ecological monitoring using dung beetles, helps ensure a strong taxonomic foundation for ecological research. Jameson is a member of the education advisory board for the “Animal Tree of Life” (NSF ISE pending grant submitted by Judy Diamond, PI). The primary focus of this pending research is to address the disconnect between the science and the teaching of phylogeny, thus impeding the public’s understanding of evolutionary relationships and classification. This education project will incorporate how children perceive animal relationships into the development of educational materials that will reflect current scientific thinking about phylogenies. Jameson is also a collaborator with John Pickering (University of Georgia) and DiscoverLife in an effort to help manage our National Parks via citizen science. Ço-PIs Jameson and Ratcliffe served on the Executive Council of the Coleopterists Society to help ensure collaboration and communication within the discipline.
Some partnerships and collaborations that were initiated by PEET2 personnel led to new research that was funded by NSF.  Jameson and Ocampo teamed with colleagues in Computer Science and Engineering and molecular biology in the School of Biological Sciences at UNL in the development of computer based tools for investigation and discovery. This trans-disciplinary research will develop cyberinfrastructure tools that will have broad application to biology and biodiversity studies, allowing investigation of over-arching questions in the biological sciences.  The research aims to: 1) unite and federate numerous, heterogeneous databases, 2) create bioinformatics tools that “plug in” to a web-based system and allow access of biodiversity data, 3) produce collaborative editing tools and tools for consistency checks, and 4) facilitate investigation and discovery through semi-automated support systems.  The value of the data collected for the advance of biodiversity research will be multiplied by annotating it and making it accessible to many disciplines.  The first challenge for the research will development of ontologies (computer language/tools) to address the following: 1) on-the-fly molecular phylogenetic analyses of taxonomic groups or geographic areas, 2) on-the-fly mapping as well as predictive mapping using GIS, and 3) examination of areas of conservation importance based on maps and phylogenetic analyses.  These tools will advance biodiversity research and will have broad application to biology, economics, health, and land management. PEET trainees Smith and Ocampo partnered in the development of NSF BS&I research on the Scarabaeoidea of Southern South America (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/SSSA.html).  This research provided on-line tools for identification in order to understand the historical biogeography in the southern hemisphere, evolutionary trends in Scarabaeoidea, and conservation priorities for southern South America.  Additionally, Ratcliffe partnered with collaborator Ron Cave (University of Florida) in the development of Biodiversity Survey and Inventory research on the dynastine scarab beetle fauna of Mexico and Belize (NSF-DEB0716899).  This project continues Ratcliffe’s benchmark research on the rhinoceros beetle fauna of the Americas. 

Project Activities and Findings

Team Scarab’s PEET2 biodiversity research has resulted in 23 monographs/revisions, 22 syntheses of higher-level groups, and descriptions of 26 genera and 175 species that are new to science. Sixteen species of larvae and nine genera of larvae were described for the first time.  Descriptions of new adults and larvae expand our understanding of the biodiversity of this speciose group of insects (over 35,000 species of scarabs are known).  Phylogenetics studies that accompanied the monographs/revisions identified sister taxa and provided a better understanding of character evolution and biogeography.
            Among Team Scarab’s findings are the first new species of stag beetle (Scarabaeoidea: Lucanidae) to be discovered in the United States in over 60 years  (Paulsen and Smith 2005) and a new fossil scarab that is the largest and oldest higher scarab fossil known, Oryctoantiquus borealis (Ratcliffe et al. 2005), described from the Eocene of Oregon.  Megaceras briansaltini Ratcliffe was awarded the designation of one of the top 10 species described in 2007.  The species, according to Ratcliffe (the author of the species), is an example of nature mimicking art, because the species seems to “imitate” the character “Dim” in the Disney/Pixar production called a “Bug’s Life”.  The Top 10 species concept is part of “The State of Observed Species Report” (SOS Report) that addresses the status of our knowledge of earth’s species, summarizing the number of species newly described and for which complete data are available.  The SOS report draws attention to the need for biodiversity research. Team scarab identified an PEET2 summary imageinvasive species of scarab beetle in Hawaii (May 2006).  The masked chafer, Cyclocephala pasadenae Casey, was recently introduced to Hawaii (date of introduction not yet estimated) but is apparently already well established.  We are working with Darcy Olshi, Department of Agriculture, Hawaii, to better understand the situation. Some species of scarab beetles are important agricultural and economic pests.  In high densities, they can exploit a large number of niches ranging from rotting organic matter and dead tree trunks to freshly growing roots.  The introduction of this species to Hawaii is yet another blow to a state that suffers from invasive species.        TOP 10 BEETLE-Megaceras briansaltini next to Pixar's beetle Dim.
            Working in collaboration with the PEET laboratory of John Heraty and John Pinto (DEB 9978150) at the University of Riverside, we have produced one of the largest molecular datasets for any single taxon with about 800 species and 2-3 gene regions per taxon.  Team Scarab is collaborating specifically with Dave Hawks, and we have spent over 150 intensive research days training and conducting research at the University of Riverside.  This research has launched 12 collaborative molecular research projects, all with the overarching theme of scarabaeoid evolution.  As part of our monographic research, and by networking with over 70 scarab enthusiasts around the world, we have obtained the most comprehensive DNA tissue collection for scarab beetles. Our molecular dataset includes representative scarab families and tribes that have never been included in higher-level analyses.  Based on these molecular data, major scarab clades have been found to be paraphyletic and polyphyletic, thus revolutionizing the way in which we view evolution and classification of scarabaeoids.  One aspect of our molecular endeavor was the evolutionary relationships of the major lineages (families, subfamilies, tribes) of scarabaeoid beetles. This research was undertaken by Post-doc Smith who is now the interim head of the Biological Survey of Canada in Ottawa, Canada. This was a collaborative effort undertaken by many members of Team Scarab (Hawks, Hawkins, Ocampo, Paulsen, Jameson, Mico, Smith) and funded initially by PEET and then also by NSF BS&I by Smith and Ocampo.  The publication is in preparation by Smith.  The sequence data are in Smith’s possession. The results need to be published in a timely manner to validate the research.
Our on-line “Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles” (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Guide/Guide-introduction/Guideintro.html) includes keys to genera that are used by many people engaged in agriculture, habitat surveys, conservation studies, biodiversity research, collection management, evolutionary studies, taxonomy, and comparative biology. Although our goal for the Guide was identification of scarab genera, the Guide has begun to grow with the addition of species pages.  Collaborators with specific expertise and interests have worked with us to develop valuable data on species within a genus.  For example, Maxi Polihronakis (formerly University of Connecticut, now at University of California Santa Barbara) developed species pages for the economically important genus Phyllophaga (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Guide/ Scarabaeoidea/Scarabaeidae/ Melolonthinae/Melolonthinae-Generic- pages/Melolonthini/Phyllophaga/Phyllophaga.
html
).  Species pages on the popular genus Chrysina (http://www-museum.unl.edu/ research/entomology/ Guide/Scarabs Gallery/Chrysina Gallery/index.html) were developed by Don Thomas, Dave Robacker, Dave Hawks, and Karen Robacker.  These pages include 73 of the 96 described species and have been very popular among amateurs and professionals alike.  REU student Matt Moore developed species pages on the genera Dynastes (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/ Guide/ Scarabaeoidea/Scarabaeidae/Dynastinae/Dynastinae-Tribes/Dynastini/ Dynastes/ Dynastes.html) and Megasoma (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/ Guide/Scarabs Gallery/Megasoma Gallery/index.html).  These resources provide new data on species, images, distribution maps, and synthesize literature in several languages and often inaccessible literature. 
The “Scarab Workers World Directory” (http://www.museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/workers/index2.htm) was given a new “skin” in 2007 and includes a search function and links to our database and On-Line Guide.  This site facilitates communication between scarab researchers and assists in providing information about scarabaeoid beetles.
Our on-line “Scarab Beetle Database”
(http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/db/scarabdb.htm) includes the database of Smithsonian Institution higher scarabs and databases for monographic research.  This database provides access to specimen-level and species-level records from multiple institutions and increases the utility of functionality the collections.  The database and site were  updated with FileMaker 8.0 and the new Mantis template (http://140.247.119.145/Mantis/).  The new database has components for DNA sequence data, images for specimens (rather than species), and mapping with GoogleEarth.  In collaboration with UNL faculty in Computer Sciences and Biological Sciences in order to bridge databases in genomics and systematics via ontologies and machine learning.  Our prototype, called SCID (Semantic Cyberinfrastructure for Investigation and Discovery) allows on-the-fly mapping, data retrieval, and federation of data. The prototype overlays a semantic framework on our own data, and ArcGIS mapping technology that includes many climatic and environmental layers (e.g., rainfall, elevation, temperature).
“Scarab Central”, the website that hosts PEET2 products, such as the on-line “Guide to Scarab Genera” and the “Scarab Worker’s World Directory”, receives approximately 70% of all State Museum web visitors. Most traffic to the web site is for content related to our “Guide to Scarab Genera” or the “World Directory”.  For example, in the month of June, “Scarab Central” received 89,436 successful requests for web pages (118,615 for the entire Museum), served 14,378 distinct hosts (22,472 for the entire Museum) and transferred 28.83 gigabytes of data (31.21 gigabytes for the entire Museum) (see http://www.museum.unl.edu/stats/entomology.html).  Based on file extensions, 45% of the users are downloading the movie “Que es un Escarabajo?”, 37% of users are downloading pdf documents (Guide keys, PEET publications), and 13% are downloading image files. 

files downloaded by visitors

Our on-line scarab biodiversity data serves numerous secondary users who link to our site. For example, images from our on-line “Guide” are used for educational purposes for the Fauna Paraguay Project (www.faunaparaguay.com/scarabaeidae.html), Marc Soula’s Rutelinae pages (http://www.rutelide-dundee.com/images.htm), and Michael Kriftner from the German World Wildlife Fund (http://www.source.at/140265/jamison.html, http://www.source.at/bochi/beetles/smallherkules6mitbanana.html) with accompanying quiz on the Amazonian rainforest. Team Scarab’s Chrysina gallery images were used by artist Catherine Mills, Whitby, Ontario, Canada, who used the images as inspiration for original art. Additionally, we are regularly contacted by magazines and journals such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Ranger Rick, Nebraskaland, and Science News to ensure accuracy of data and images.
With the termination of PEET1-2 and the salaried loss of Jameson and Paucar (webmaster for Scarab Central), we sought long-term archive solutions for our “Guide to Scarab Beetles”.  Long term maintenance of a website requires a commitment to management of servers and server security, as well as a commitment to regular software updates.  Initially, we tried to migrate all of our data to the Tree of Life (www.tolweb.org/).  Complications with file formats and questions of long-term preservation of this site caused us to abandon this option.  Species pages associated with our “Guide” will be migrated to the Encylcopedia of Life (EOL: http://www.eol.org/), but this site will not preserve data associated with genera, tribes, subfamilies, and families of scarabs.  Thus, we partnered with the University of Nebraska Digital Commons and Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.  After discussions, it was agreed that they would archive the entire on-line “Guide” and would allow updates to the archive about twice per year.  The Center for Digital Research hosts several research projects associate with the University (see http://cdrh.unl.edu/projects/thematic_research.php) including “Nebraska Birds” (http://libtextcenter.unl.edu/birds_of_nebraska/) and “Envisioning the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clarke” (http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/index.html).  Our “Guide” is the first web-based archive that they have selected.

Training and Development

Since the initiation of PEET2 (1 September 2002), 12 students and one post doc have received training in systematics at the MS, PhD, and undergraduate levels. Training included four female students (Colby, Hawkins, Westergren, Reike), two Latin American students (Ocampo, Orozco), and one Asian student (Zhang), all under-represented groups in systematic entomology. The post doc (Smith) was promoted to Research Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska (October 2003), he received an NSF BS&I grant as well as a Canadian Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Postdoctoral Two-Year Fellowship, and was appointed interim director of the Biological Survey of Canada. One graduate student (Ocampo) graduated with his PhD, became the Collections Manager in Entomology at UNL (April 2004-July 2007), and accepted a research position at the Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones de Zonas Aridas in Mendoza, Argentina.  Graduate student Paulsen was the first trained systematist to work on the Lucanidae in over 50 years, thus his expertise fills an important gap within the Scarabaeoidea.  After graduating with his PhD, Paulsen was hired by the Florida State Department of Arthropods, Bureau of Entomology, Nematology & Plant Pathology in Gainesville, Florida. Subsequently, he returned to UNL as the Entomology Collections Manager.  MS student Hawkins graduated with her Masters degree in August 2005.  She was funded by a prestigious NSERC fellowship and continued her PhD at the University of Waterloo, Canada.  MS student Julia Colby began her program in July 2006 arriving from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY. She completed her MS in May 2008 and is currently employed at the Chicago Academy of Sciences as an entomology assistant collection manager.  Two MS students (A.D. Smith, and Reike) began their programs with Team Scarab, but both opted to continue their studies elsewhere (Texas A&M University, then University of Michigan;  Ashland Art Academy, Oregon [respectively]). REU student Matt Moore shows high potential in the field of biology and especially in systematics.  He initiated his research on the genus Dynastes (hercules beetles), and has branched out beyond this taxonomic group, authoring numerous genus-pages on our On-Line Guide to New World Scarab Beetles.  Undergraduates Jonathan Heinemann, David Simeng Zhang, Matt Moore volunteered in our laboratory. Two undergraduate students, Reike and Westergren, graduated (with distinction and with high distinction). Reike continued her education as an illustrator at the Ashland Academy of Art, Ashland, Oregon.  Westergren was a summer intern with Dr. Mark Siddall (leech PEET) at the American Museum of Natural History. She has continued in biology, working as a field technician for research programs on endangered birds (Hawaii), nesting biology (California), and sexual selection (Australia). She is currently seeking a graduate program in systematics.  Former undergraduate student and member of Team Scarab during PEET I (Katie Swoboda) has completed her MS degree at Utah State University where she was studying bee biology with Dr. Jim Cane. PI Jameson was promoted to Research Associate Professor (May 2003).  The University originally promised to fund Jameson beyond this grant (statement in writing and part of the proposal), but the current UNL administration did not adhere to promises of its predecessor.  Thus, Jameson was not retained at UNL.  Due to budget cuts at the University of Nebraska (March 10, 2003), co-PI Ratcliffe was fired, re-hired, and transferred from the State Museum to the Department of Entomology (April 2003).  Whereas his former responsibilities were primarily research and curation, his current responsibilities are research, curation, and teaching. 

Contributions within Discipline

Within systematics and entomology, Team Scarab’s PEET products aid in the interpretation of biodiversity within a speciose insect group.  The expanded conceptual framework in the Scarabaeoidea allows the study of biological diversity at many levels from DNA sequences and genomes, to protein functions, to differences between and among species, communities, and ecosystems.  This broader conceptual framework enables our understanding of the “big picture” of biodiversity of life on our planet.

The on-line “Guide to New World Genera” allows for identification of scarab genera, provides overviews of taxa, catalogs, images, distribution maps, etc.  This guide will continue to grow due to input from international collaborators. The “Scarab Workers World Directory” allows for collaboration and communication.

The “team” approach in conducting research is transmitted to the community and enhances the science of systematics and taxonomy, a historically “one man science.” Student training such as that associated with PEET2, invests in the future of systematics and biodiversity.  Training increases science literacy by helping students understand how knowledge is attained, its nature, and its limitations.  This mode of scientific thinking transcends current ideas and requires active scrutiny of evidence. 

Members of Team Scarab are collaborators on the NSF sponsored "Assembling the Beetle Tree of Life" (PIs B. Farrell, D. Maddison, A. Slipinski, and M. Whiting; see http://insects.oeb.harvard.edu/ATOL/index.htm) and comprise the Scarabaeoidea TWIG, thus contributing to our knowledge of the evolution and diversification of the largest and most diverse branch of life.  Our collaboration with the Scarabaeinae Research Network
(see http://216.73.242.84/scarabnet/), an NSF-funded group that promotes conservation assessment and ecological monitoring using dung beetles, helps ensure a strong taxonomic foundation for ecological research. 

PEET2 personnel influence the discipline by becoming active members of the community (Jameson was subject editor for Annals of ESA the Entomological Society of America, 2002-2003; Jameson was president of the Central States Entomological Society [=Kansas Entomological Society], 2002-2003 and 2003 annual meeting organizer for  “Insect Biodiversity on the Prairies”; Jameson is President for The Coleopterists Society, 2005-2006; Ocampo was Councilor for the Coleopterists Society, 2002-2003; Ratcliffe is the Institutional Representative to the Natural Science Collection Alliance; Ratcliffe is a member of the International Editorial Board for Folia Entomologia Mexicana and Dugesiana; Ratcliffe is Secretary for The Coleopterists Society; Smith is book review editor for The Coleopterists Bulletin; Smith is owner and manager of the “SCARABS-L” electronic listserve; Smith is associate editor for Zootaxa, 2005-2006; Paulsen is editor for Insecta Mundi, 2007-present). Ratcliffe is editor for the University of Nebraska State Museum Bulletin series, a peer-reviewed journal that is publishing PEET monographs for Janine Caira’s laboratory (Univ. Connecticut) (Parts I and II of “Tapeworms of Elasmobranchs” are published), faunistic works (e.g., Geluso and Geluso. 2004. Mammals of Carlsbad Caverns National Park), and scarab monographs (e.g., Ocampo. 2006. Phylogeny of Hybosoridae and Revision of Anaidinae).  Jameson and Ratcliffe served as editors for the Coleopterists Bulletin Monograph on scarabaeoids which included 11 leading edge papers on scarab biology, ecology, evolution, behavior, nomenclature, and fossils.

Contributions to other Disciplines

Authoritatively identified collections were made available to a broad community of users (land managers, agriculturalist, evolutionary biologists, ecologists, etc.), thus allowing for interpretation of our natural world. On-line databases allow for data-mining by unlimited disciplines.  Phylogenetic classifications of scarabaeoids provide an evolutionary context for understanding ecology, evolution, behavior.  Our PEET2 personnel contributed to other disciplines by chairing multi-disciplinary conferences (Jameson was co-chair for Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska called “Great Plains Migrations” (2002) and organizer for Central States Entomological Society annual conference called “Insect Biodiversity on the Prairies” (2003)) and hosting workshops for geographers and ecologists (Ocampo co-organized and presented “Selected Methods in Historical Biogeography and Cophylogenetics” (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2004) and “Historical Biogeography: Theory and Analysis” (New York Botanical Garden, New York, 2002)).  Jameson and Ocampo teamed Computer Science and Engineering colleagues at UNL in the development cyberinfrastructure tools for investigation and discovery. The team is working to develop ontologies (computer language/tools) to bridge genomics and systematics, create on-line tools for investigation and discovery, and federate biological data. These tools have the potential of transforming the way that we conduct science, enabling major advances in scientific discovery, and allowing us to answer broad questions in biology such as climate change, disease transmission, and predicted distributions of invasive species.

Contributions to Human Resource Development

Members of our team are from under-represented groups in systematics (Latin American, Asian, and female).  Exhibits, web pages, and outreach activities contribute to informal science education. Latin American and female “instructors” provide role models to young people who are interested in science-related careers. The research contributes to the knowledge of biota through curation and identification, collecting, descriptions, monographs, seminars to school groups and parks personnel. Curation, identification, databases, and collections (tissue and dry) add to resource development in Argentina and Chile.

Contributions to Resources for Research and Education

Databases, authoritatively identified collections, DNA collections, On-line Guides, publications are all useful to a broad audience of users (see “Contributions to other Disciplines” and “Contributions to Human Resource Development”).  Public presentations on science, evolution, and biodiversity instill knowledge in largely rural communities in Nebraska and Kansas. Jameson is a member of the education advisory board for the “Animal Tree of Life” (NSF ISE pending grant submitted by Judy Diamond, PI). The primary focus of this pending research is to address the disconnection between the science and the teaching of phylogeny, thus impeding the public’s understanding of evolutionary relationships and classification. This education project will incorporate how children perceive animal relationships into the development of educational materials that will reflect current scientific thinking about phylogenies.  “Scarabs for Kids” (http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/ Scarabs-for-Kids/home.html) provides educational opportunities for K-6 students with information and down-loadable activities.

Contributions beyond Science and Engineering

Scientific information that is mined from our databases, presentations, publications, and on-line data will be used by resource managers to help monitor areas and to justify conservation measures for areas.  Education (formal and informal) on systematics and biodiversity will positively impact students and the general public by providing the data necessary to make wise decisions for the future of the planet.  Products of this research will positively impact the field of bioinformatics, making additional data available with which to test diversity models.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________
UNSM logo
Division of Entomology
W 436 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska State Museum
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0514 USA
Curator:
Brett C. Ratcliffe
(402) 472-2614
bratcliffe1@unl.edu
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