Posts Tagged: Harvard University
If you've studied bees, you know that there are approximately 20,000 described species of bees in the world.
Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumble bees, but they don't know about "those big black bees" (carpenter bees) or "those green metallic bees" (sweat bees).
Harvard University and the Encyclopedia of Life to the rescue!
Jessica Rykken, Ph.D. of the Farrell lab at Harvard University, and editor Jeff Holmes, Ph.D. of the Encyclopedia of Life, Harvard University, have just published a field guide to bees that is simply outstanding.
The field guide, titled "Bees," is comprised of observer cards that are "designed to foster the art and science of observing nature," Rykken writes.
It's a guide that looks at bees much the way we all first started looking at bees. It's divided into anatomy, foraging, lifestyles, pollination, nesting habits, behavior, life cycle, associations (such as hitchhiking) and techniques (collecting and conservation).
Under nesting habits, you'll learn about the miners, masons, leafcutters and carpenters.
Under anatomy, you'll learn about body plan, look-alikes, size and shape, body color, antennae, wings, males ves females, pollen transport, tongue length, pilosity, stingers. Pilosity? What's that you ask? It means the density and pattern of hair on their bodies.
Lifestyles? No, not of the rich and famous. These point to social bees, solitary bees and cuckoo bees.
Rykken asked permission to use two of our photos, and they're in there, too. One is of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology being stung by a honey bee (Apis mellifera), and the other is a chunk of plum tree wood drilled by valley carpenter bees (Xylocopa varipuncta). A Davis resident brought the plum tree wood into the Bohart Museum of Entomology for insect identification. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum (home of nearly 8 million specimens) and UC Davis professor of entomology, told him that valley carpenter bees (females) drilled the holes. The female valley carpenter bees are solid black, while the males are blond with green eyes.
The field guide can be downloaded for free on the Encyclopedia of Life website at http://eol.org. Or, just download this link to the PDF.
This photo, appearing in the field guide, is of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen being stung by a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This photo in the field guide shows a chunk of plum tree wood drilled by valley carpenter bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Heliconius butterflies will take center stage, so to speak, when James Mallet of Harvard University presents a lecture at the University of California, Davis on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Mallet will discuss “Hybridization, Mimicry and the Origin of Species in Heliconius Butterflies” from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition (LSA). The talk, open to all interested persons, is part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology’s fall seminar series.
The adults’ brightly colored wing patterns signal their distastefulness to potential predators.
“It is a seductive idea that species are independent evolutionary units,” says Mallet, whose research focuses on the evolution and genetics of Amazonian butterflies. “Natural hybridization is rare in nature on a per-individual basis, but it may affect many species. Brightly colored Heliconius butterflies engage in Müllerian mimicry of other species. Although most of this mimicry is due to adaptive reconstruction of similar patterns, we've long suspected that color patterns are exchanged among some closely related species that hybridize occasionally in nature.”
Müllerian mimicry, named after German naturalist Fritz Müller, occurs when two or more poisonous species, “that may or may not be closely related and share one or more common predators, have come to mimic each other’s warning signals” (Wikipedia).
“We have recently shown that genomic regions that determine mimicry have been exchanged repeatedly among species to form new, adaptive combinations,” Mallet says. “Through their joint effects on mating behavior and signaling to predators, these novel color patterns are also involved in triggering evolution of new species.”
Heliconius, a widespread genus, is distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from South America to the southern United States. The larvae eat passion flower vines (Passifloraceae).
Before accepting a position as a distinguished lecturer earlier this year at Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Mallet was a professor of biodiversity at University College London (UCL) from 1992 to 2012. He describes himself as an avid natural historian and a Darwin enthusiast. He has led courses in tropical ecology in southern Europe, Africa and across South America.
Mallet served as a Helen Putnam Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2009 to 2010. Among his many appointments, Mallet is an honorary research fellow at the Natural History Museum, London, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama.
Mallet received his bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1976 from Oxford University; his master’s degree in applied entomology from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1978; and his doctorate in zoology at the University of Texas, Austin in 1984. He was a NERC Fellow (Natural Environment Research Council Fellowship) in genetics and biometry from 1985 to 1988 at UCL before joining Mississippi State University's Department of Entomology as an assistant professor.
Mallet will be introduced by medical entomologist/professor Greg Lanzaro of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Plans call for Mallet's lecture to be videotaped and then posted at a later date on UCTV.
Doris Longwing (Lapus doris viridis) at Puentes Colgantes near Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica. (Photo by Hans Hillewaert, Courtesy of Wikipeda)