ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY

For course description and prerequisites, please refer to the Department of Environmental Biology course calender.

For the information on the current or upcoming term, please refer to the Department of Environmental Biology course outline.

ENVB*427: Insect Biosystematics


Instructor: Dr. S.A. Marshall


Lectures: GHM 2302 Wednesday,  Friday 12:30-1:20 

LAB:  Friday 1:30-4:20, GRHM 1316

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

1) Overview the science of systematics in an entomological context

2) Overview the taxonomy and systematics of major insect groups

3) Develop practical skills in insect identification and related entomological techniques

Lecture schedule: This is a small class, and lectures tend to be flexible, often evolving in different directions according to student interests. We will start out with a few lectures covering the basics of systematics on the first few Tuesdays, then briefly overview the entire Insecta from a biosystematic perspective on Fridays and the balance of the Tuesday lectures. Here is a tentative schedule:
 

Introduction, approaches to insect taxonomy.

Apterygota and insect higher classification

Palaeoptera

 Nomenclature and History

 Orthopteroids

Principles of phylogenetics and an introduction to phylogenetic methodology

Orthoptera

Homoptera classification and the
the Phthiraptera problem

Hemipteroid identification

Insect Zoogeography

Anatomy of a revision

Lepidoptera

Trichoptera and Lepidoptera

Coleoptera

 Coleoptera, Neuroptera, Mecoptera

Phylogenetic methodology; Dipteran examples

Diptera

Diptera

Diptera

Hymenoptera

 Hymenoptera

Insect systematics in Canada

 

MARKING SCHEME:

The emphasis in this course is on field and laboratory experience and the bulk of your mark will reflect the time you have spent learning to identify insects. There is no final and only one mid-term exam (worth 15%). The remainder of your mark is based on the following criteria:
 

(1) Required insect collection. - A collection of properly prepared and labeled insects identified to family or subfamily plus one group (of your choice, but preferably the same group you do your literature review on) identified to genus or species. The collection is worth 55% of the course - 40% based on the number of correctly identified taxa and 15% based on collection quality. You will need about 100 correctly identified families to pass the course, and about 230 correctly identified families to exceed 80%. You will be provided with bulk insect samples typical of current biodiversity research, and you may supplement your collection from these samples. Up to 50% of your collection may be compiled from these samples, but you will get more out of the course if you work with specimens you have collected yourself.  You may substitute identified photographs or digital images for specimens, but they must be your original  images and they must be labeled to the same standard as specimens. Identifiable artifacts (cases, mines, frass, cast skins, etc) are acceptable as specimens.
 

(2) Literature review on the taxon of your choice, including a complete search on the taxon name and discussion of recent work on the group. Ideally, you should combine your review with some hands-on taxonomy with specimens of your taxon.  Include and explain a synonymy for the taxon, and list the abstracting journals etc. used to trace the taxon name and tap recent literature. You are encouraged to submit your literature two weeks prior to the final due date, in which case it will marked and returned to you one week before the due date. You may then re-submit it on the due date for re-marking if you wish (Worth 25%)
 

(3) Sample analysis: You will be given one or more bulk insect samples taken by standard collecting techniques (Malaise traps, flight intercept traps, or pan traps). Twenty-five different insects are to be removed from the sample, properly prepared and identified, then used to write a report on the trap, sample site and included taxa. The insects removed from the sample may also be used in your collection. Comment on difficulties encountered in specimen preparation and identification. Discuss the insect fauna of the time and place the trap was set, and comment on the limitations of the trap. Don't exceed three pages of text, it is only worth 5%!
 
 

ENVB*427 - LITERATURE REVIEW

Real-life problems in biosystematics often involve correct identification of an organism, pursuit of all existing literature on the taxon to which that organism belongs, and the directed interpretation of the literature on that taxon and its near relatives. For this literature review, you are to choose a taxon and start off by doing a thorough library search on the taxon name. You must trace the origin of the taxon name and ascertain any changes that name has undergone since the taxon was discovered. Record all papers relative to the systematics of this taxon. Record the steps you take to compile this basic information (i.e. searched Zoological Records 1890-1950, found revision by Smith published 1949, searched for Smith in Science Citation etc., etc.).
 

Having compiled a basic list of references, write a paper on your taxon with respect to the general subject areas covered in this course. I would suggest the following sections:
 

A) Nomenclatorial history: Demonstrate your understanding of changes in name, status, etc. Do not just copy a synonymy from the literature.
 

B) Taxonomy: Are there keys available? To what level and for what region? Have you tried them out? Some students make this a major part of their paper, including rewritten or new keys and extensive discussions of the Canadian fauna.
 

C) Systematics: What about speciation, phylogeny and zoogeography? Be critical of existing literature if there is any; otherwise the field is open for your speculation.
 

D) Overview the taxon: What remains to be discovered? What questions would you pursue as a researcher on this group, and how?
 
  These are only suggestions -- each taxon will lead you in different directions. You should bear in mind that the closer you keep your paper to course content, the more use it will be to you when you write your exam.
 

ENVB*427 Insect Biosystematics - Labs

 

Labs in ENVB*427 are open format, but you are urged to stay ahead of the schedule below. Do not make the mistake of skipping labs because there are no specific weekly assignments! Help will be available in the lab all Friday afternoons. Limited space is sometimes available in the systematics research lab (Rm. 1214) and you may also use available space during the ENVB*309 labs. Every effort will be made to give you access to the lab outside the scheduled period.
 

The emphasis of the lab time should be on your own collection, which should be organized and error-free by the end of March.
 

SUGGESTED LABORATORY SCHEDULE

Week 1 Sort unknowns to order and familiar families.; familiarize yourself with the equipment.

2 Identify all Apterygotes, Palaeoptera, Orthopteroids.
 

3 Identify all Hemipteroids. Use lecture handout to check Palaeoptera.

Slide mount lice, fleas and entognaths not yet identified.
 

4 Lepidoptera, Trichoptera.

Use lecture handout to check Orthopteroids.
 

5 Misc. orders - Neuroptera, Mecoptera.

Use lecture handout to check Hemipteroids, finish Lepidoptera, Trichoptera.
 

6 Coleoptera.
 

7 Coleoptera.
 

8 Diptera.
 

9 Diptera.
 

10 Hymenoptera.

11 Work on Diptera, Hymenoptera.
 

12 Overview and improve collection.
 

13 Check things over. Re-key errors.
 

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU PREPARE YOUR OWN INSECT COLLECTION PRIOR TO THE COURSE - SOME STUDENTS DO COMPLETE THE COLLECTION REQUIREMENT DURING THE COURSE, BUT YOU WILL ENJOY THE EXERCISE MORE AND GET MORE OUT OF IT IF YOU MAKE YOUR COLLECTION DURING THE SUMMER. INSTRUCTIONS AND EQUIPMENT (DEPOSIT REQUIRED) ARE AVAILABLE IN THE SYSTEMATICS LABORATORY, GRAHAM HALL 1214. YOUR TEXTBOOK INCLUDES KEYS AND GOOD GUIDELINES FOR MAKING AN INSECT COLLECTION.