NSF Biological Research Collections Grant
Curator of Insects Derek Sikes recently received a $237,453 National Science Foundation grant to bring the museum's insect collection up to modern standards. The upgrade will greatly increase collection space with new compactors, facilitate specimen databasing and digital photography, and reorganize and integrate the collection making specimens more accessible for researchers. The grant will also support one graduate student and multiple undergraduate students working in collections-based entomology.
Installation of new 24 Delta Design cabinets, a new floor, and two new compactor carriages by Spacesaver was completed on 21 Jan 2010. A photogallery showing the old cabinets, the work in progress, and the new cabinets is available at the following link: New Collection Infrastructure
Alaskan arthropods: Baseline biodiversity
Terrestrial arthropods are the most speciose and diverse animal component of terrestrial ecosystems, accounting for 80% or more of total described species diversity (Kremen et al. 1993). Unlike the vertebrates and vascular plants, the invertebrate (primarily arthropod) fauna of Alaska is among the least well known of any US state. New state, country, and continent records, and even undescribed species are easily found. Due to Alaska’s unique biogeographic history its fauna is expected to harbor many elements absent from the better known Canadian fauna.
The climate of Alaska is changing and we are ill prepared to understand the ecological community level changes that are bound to result because we do not know the majority of the “players” involved. Our knowledge of the arthropod fauna is at least half a century, or more, behind that of the vascular plants which were monographed by Hultén (1968). Frustrating our efforts to solve this problem are a lack of synthetic treatments that summarize the known (i.e. published) Alaskan arthropod fauna.
This pilot project will consolidate and make accessible information on this fauna from three sources: 1) published literature, 2) the UAM Insect collection and the Canadian National Collection, and 3) a sampling transect running north from Fairbanks (65°N) to an arctic field site (Toolik LTER, 68.6°N), to provide a solid base of information to seek funding for future work.
We are beginning a pass through the UAM Insect collection and photographing one specimen of each species. These photographs will be high-resolution automontage images and will be available in the UAM specimen database, ARCTOS.
We are seeking volunteers to help with our imaging project. If interested please contact the Curator, Derek Sikes, dssikes 'at' alaska.edu
To see some examples, click this link for specimens records with images.
We have also been loading our images onto the BugGuide website.
All new accessions and outgoing loans are being databased with each specimen receiving a 2D matrix barcode label.
A somewhat dated but still useful reference on use of barcodes in Entomology: Thompson, F. C. 1994. Bar codes for specimen data management. Insect Collection News 9:2-4. Online version at the Diptera Site.
Startup costs: Label making software (Seagull BarTender): $245,2D scanner (Symbol DS6708 scanner): $388
Hultén, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories: A manual of the vascular plants. Stanford University Press, Stanford, xxii + 1008.
Kremen, C., R.K. Colwell, T.L. Erwin, D.D. Murphy, R.F. Noss and M.A. Sanjayan. 1993. Terrestrial arthropod assemblages: Their use in conservation planning. Conservation Biology 7: 796-808