NSF PEET DEB-0730616 - PEET: Consolidation of research and training activities in Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera)
John Heraty (PI)
James Woolley (Co-PI)
1. Train specialists in Aphelinidae, Signiphoridae and Trichogrammatidae (Chalcidoidea).
2. Monograph species of Coccobius, Signiphora, Thysaninae, Zaga and Zagella (in part).
3. Conduct appropriate molecular studies for each group for phylogenetic affinities.
4. Develop web-based videoconferencing and shared taxonomic resource tools.
5. Produce on-line image and taxonomic catalogs for types of the three target families.
Jason Mottern (UCR) - Revision of Coccobius.
Ana DalMolin (TAMU) - Monographic Revision of Thysaninae (Signiphoridae).
- Verónica Ávila (Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León) - Revision of Mexican Zagella
In addition, one new MSc student will be recruited to work on the monographic revision of Zaga (Trichogrammatidae).
James Munro - Continuing studies of Azotinae (Aphelinidae).
Goals and Broader Impacts:
Chalcidoidea are a poorly known yet ubiquitous microfauna in all terrestrial habitats. Aphelinidae, Signiphoridae and Trichogrammatidae are all economically important. Species attack and control populations of scale insects, whiteflies, leafhoppers, Lepidoptera and other insects or are hyperparasitoids, making their species identification crucial to many biological control programs. Species are abundant in natural and agronomic ecosystems and are of interest to ecologists, economic entomologists and specialists in biological control. Monographs, electronic catalogs, and computer- based interactive identification aids will allow far more people to participate in identification of Chalcidoidea. Development of new methods of information management will set standards that can be applied to other diverse genera such as Encarsia and Coccophagus (Aphelinidae), Oligosita and Trichogramma (Trichogrammatidae). An on-line species-page catalog, data management system in MX , and links with the Chalcidoidea Database will offer a tremendous opportunity for initiating new taxonomic studies within these families.
The evolution of the target families is fascinating, and each contain several unique and complex features such as heteronomy (Hunter and Woolley 2001), hyperparasitism, various forms of thelytoky, diversity of host relationships (Viggiani 1984) and associations with endosymbionts (Hunter et al. 2003). Study of the evolution of these biologies must be done in a phylogenetic framework for which the monographic studies proposed here will form a foundation. Revisionary studies will provide critical new information for understanding higher level relationships. As well, certain genera exhibit a high degree of regional endemism well suited for biogeographic analyses.
The project is structured around training activities. This PEET provides an important opportunity to broaden the participation of under-represented groups in the taxonomic enterprise. A female Ph.D. student from Brazil has been recruited, and we are including a female Ph.D. student from México in our research and training. Both UCR (38 undergraduate majors) and TAMU (102 majors) have large populations of excellent minority students and we will focus our recruiting efforts for undergraduates and potential graduate students from these populations. For example, in Spring 2006, TAMU Entomology majors included 58 women, 18 Hispanics, 7 African Americans and one Native American, and 39 of these students were in the first generation in their families to attend university. Student worker positions provide an excellent opportunity to bring undergraduates into our laboratories and engage them in contemporary research activities in taxonomy and systematics.
We hope this project will have a broad impact on the practice of taxonomy, both in Hymenoptera and also a wider arena. The videoconferencing and on-line informatics methods proposed will integrate our laboratories and those of collaborators into functional “meta-laboratories” in which interaction between participants and resource-sharing occurs on a regular (see MX lab conferencing ). This level of integration will profoundly change the way we work, and has the potential to profoundly transform the discipline.