Plants, Herbivores, and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-trophic Associations

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Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Plants, Herbivores, and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-Trophic Associations

Tri-Trophic TCN
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Project Summary

For up-to-date information and the Tri-Tropic blog please see our project website.

All the nearly 20,000 plant species in North America are attacked by insect pests, including those in the group Hemiptera (known as the “true bugs”), which are in turn attacked by parasitoid insects in the Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants), widely used for biological control of agricultural pests. This project will unify some eight million records in 34 collections to answer how the distributions and phenologies of the plants, pests and parasitoids relate to each other, in a Tri-Trophic Databasing and imaging project – the TTD. Data from this approach will benefit basic scientific questions and practical applications in the agricultural sciences, conservation biology, ecosystem studies and climate change and biogeography research. Technological tools and methods will be introduced to graduate students, affiliated universities, and grant-sponsored students from other institutions through a short course. A data-mining and species-distribution modeling symposium at the University of California-Riverside will foster interactions between systematics and ecological researchers, and explore the TTD as a platform for instruction and inquiry.

Current Research

Plants, Herbivores, and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-trophic Associations Primary Institutions: American Museum of Natural History & New York Botanical Garden Website: http://tcn.amnh.org/ All the nearly 20,000 plant species in North America are attacked by insect pests, including those in the group Hemiptera (known as the “true bugs”), which are in turn attacked by parasitoid insects in the Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants), widely used for biological control of agricultural pests. This project will unify some three million records in 34 collections to answer how the distributions and phenologies of the plants, pests and parasitoids relate to each other, in a Tri-Trophic Databasing and imaging project – the TTD. Data from this approach will benefit basic scientific questions and practical applications in the agricultural sciences, conservation biology, ecosystem studies and climate change and biogeography research.

A few recent highlights include:

  1. Many newly digitized records! TTD had approximately 1,151,424 newly transformed insect records and 1,325,086 plant images completed as of June, 2015.
  2. Dissemination of information through attendance at iDigBio workshops, meetings, and two articles in the recent ZooKeys special issue, No Specimen Left Behind (http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys/issue/209/).
  3. An intensive, research focused, specimen level biodiversity informatics short course was held in 2013.
  4. Numerous volunteers increased georeferencing and databasing productivity at participating institutions, particularly at the NYBG and AMNH.
  5. The TTD at AMNH is offering a Research Experience for Undergraduates in Summer 2014 to Jeremy Frank, who is now an incoming Richard Gilder Graduate Student [1].
  6. DiscoverLife, one of the TTD partners, had developed a host interaction public portal (http://www.discoverlife.org/tttcn/) and a series of sophisticated locality cleaning and matching services for the project.
  7. One of our AMNH digitizers received an EOL Rubenstein Fellow (http://eol.org/info/52) to pursue her interest in altitude specificity in floral coloration.
  8. The principal software for capturing host – insect –parasitoid data from natural history collections, Arthropod Easy Data Capture, has been open-sourced (http://sourceforge.net/projects/arthropodeasy/).

Project Websites & Social Media

Tri-trophic TCN Website http://tcn.amnh.org

Facebook: Insects-Plants-and-Parasites-Digitizing-Natural-History-Collections

Citizen Science & Outreach Projects

Project Leadership

Project Sponsor: American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) (NSF Award 1115080)

Principal Investigator (PI):Randall T. Schuh, American Museum of Natural History; (co-PI): Christine Johnson, American Museum of Natural History

Collaborating Award PIs:
Richard Rabeler, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Charles Bartlett, University of Delaware; Robert Naczi, New York Botanical Garden; Melissa Tulig, New York Botanical Garden; Robert Magill, Missouri Botanical Garden; John Heraty, University of California, Riverside; Christiane Weirauch, University of California, Riverside; Benjamin Normark, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Project Collaborators

Map of Collaborating Institutions

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
California Academy of Sciences
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Colorado State University
Cornell University
Eastern Michigan University
Iowa State University
Miami University
Mississippi State University
Missouri Botanical Garden (NSF Award 1115115)
New York Botanical Garden (NSF Award 1115103)
North Carolina State University
Oregon State University
Texas A&M University
University of California – Berkeley
University of California – Riverside (NSF Award 1115144)
University of Colorado, Museum of Natural History
University of Delaware (NSF Award 1115103)
University of Georgia
University of Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Maine
University of Massachusetts (NSF Award 1115191)
University of Michigan (NSF Award 1115081)
University of Minnesota, Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Texas
University of Wisconsin – Madison

Unfunded Contributors:
Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria
Consortium of California Herbaria
Drexel University, Academy of Natural Sciences
Florida State Collection of Arthropods
Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences/Staten Island Museum - Entomology
Southwest Biodiversity Consortium

Protocols & Workflows

Publications

  1. Peterson, D. A, N. B. Hardy, G. E. Morse, I. C. Stocks, A. Okusu, and B. B. Normark. Phylogenetic analysis reveals positive correlations between adaptations to diverse hosts in a group of pathogen-like herbivores. Evolution, v.69, 2015.
  2. Hardy, N. B, D. A. Peterson, and B. B. Normark. Submitted. Host-plant breadth of scale insects evolves faster in the tropics. Biology Letters. Submitted.
  3. Bartlett, C. R. and G. Kunz.. "A new genus and species of delphacid planthopper (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Delphacidae) from Central America with a preliminary regional species list.," Zootaxa, v.3946, 2015.
  4. Bartlett, C. R., S. W. Wilson, and D. S. Sikes. "First New World Record of Paradelphacodes paludosus (Flor 1861) (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea : Delphacidae) in Alaska," Entomological News, v.124, 2015.
  5. Ellwood, E.R., B. Dunckel, P. Flemons, R. Guralnick, G. Nelson, G. Newman, S. Newman, D. Paul, G. Riccardi, N. Rios, K. C. Seltmann, and A.R. Mast. "Accelerating Digitization of Biodiversity Research Specimens through Online Public Participation," BioScience, v.65, 2015.
  6. Wheeler, A. G., Jr. and C. R. Bartlett. "Megamelanus bicolor Ball (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Delphacidae): a specialist planthopper on saltgrass (Distichlis spicata; Poaceae) in Nebraska's saline wetlands," Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, v.117, 2015.
  7. Bartlett, C. R.. "New species of the planthopper genus Parkana (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Delphacidae) from Mesoamerica," Transactions of the American Entomological Society, v.140, 2014.
  8. Bartlett, C. R., L. B. O'Brien, and S. W. Wilson. "A review of the planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) of the United States," Memoirs of the American Entomological Society, v.50, 2014.
  9. Bartlett, C. R. and M. D. Webb. "The planthopper genus Spartidelphax, a new segregate of Nearctic Delphacodes (Hemiptera, Delphacidae)," ZooKeys, v.453, 2014.
  10. Kennedy, A. C. and C. R. Bartlett. "Systematics of Caenodelphax Fennah (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Dephacidae) and Description of the New Genus Flavoclypeus.," Transactions of the American Entomological Society, v.140, 2014, p. 17-65.
  11. Wright, C. M. & K.C. Seltmann. "Color Representation of Blue Flowers by Encyclopedia of Life Content Providers," Biodiversity Data Journal, v.e1143, 2014.
  12. Randall Schuh. "Integrating Specimen Databases and Revisionary Systematics," ZooKeys, v.209, 2012.
  13. Tulig,M., N. Tarnowsky, M. Bevans, A. Kirchgessner, and B. M. Thiers. "Increasing the Efficiency of Digitization Workflows for Herbarium Specimens.," ZooKeys, v.209, 2012.

Professional Presentations

iDigBio Summit V, 2015

Other project documentation