The family friendly, science-based event takes place Saturday, Feb. 18 when 12 museums or collections will be open to the public. It's all free: free admission, free parking, and, of course, free encounters with the scientists.
The event, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will "showcase natural history, biodiversity and the cultural-ecological interface," said Biodiversity Museum Day coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. All collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
Someone asked: "Are there any special activities for youths ages 6 to 10?"
Yes, lots of activities will interest this age group, as well as other age groups.
For example, you can "pet" walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas at the live "petting zoo" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
You can marvel at the huge dinosaur bones in the Paleontology Collection in the Earth and Physical Sciences Building on Crocker Lane.
You can see carnivorous plants "swallow" flies and other unsuspecting insects in the Botanical Conservatory, off Kleiber Hall Drive.
You can get up close to hawks and other birds of prey and watch demonstrations at the California Raptor Center on Old Davis Road. You can also check out the Raptor Center museum and even pick apart owl pellets to look for bones.
You can see prehistoric tools and watch demonstrations of flint knapping and atlati throwing at the Anthropology Museum display, Young Hall, central campus.
You can catch bees and other insects in a vacuum device for a catch-and-release activity at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, and get a close-up view of the queen bee, workers and drones in the bee observation hive.
You can engage in leaf rubbing activities, olive wreath crown making and some interactive activities dealing with erosion control and composting at the Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road.
You can also look through the portable Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), borrowed from Hitachi. It will be located in the Academic Surge Building, either in the Bohart Museum or in the Wildlife Room, said Yang.
The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day is also a good time for prospective students to learn about possible majors.
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, Young Hall
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, Yang said, but the collections are not always accessible to the public, Yang said. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
For further information about the event, access the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
A veritable Who's Who of lepidopterists.
Some 25 lepidopterists and others interested in butterflies and moths gathered recently at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, to work on identifications, share research information, and enjoy camaraderie.
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth specimens at the Bohart Museum, coordinated the event with fellow Bohart Museum associate John Debenedictis. "It always takes place the last Saturday of January," Smith said. "We alternate each year between the Bohart Museum and the Essig Museum at UC Berkeley."
"John and I sort of work together every other year to host this gathering at the Bohart Museum," Smith said, "although it doesn't really involve much work on our part since all the attendees are self-winding and easily find ways to stay busy."
"We're a dying breed," said Kelly Richers of systematists. Richers, an Essig associate, was there working on underwing moths, genus Catocala, family Noctuidae. Catocala is Greek meaning "beautiful below." The common name, Underwings, "refers to the posture where the forewings are normally held together over the back at rest, hiding the hindwings beneath," according to BugGuide.net. "Hence, the hindwings are the (bold and beautiful) underwings that this genus is known for." Richers compiles the California Moth Specimen Database, maintained at the Essig Museum since 1996 as a resource to better survey and understand California moths.
If anyone had asked "Is there a doctor in the house?" scores of entomologists with Ph.Ds may have raised their hands, if they weren't too busy studying or discussing specimens. But there was at least one medical doctor there--Val Albu of Fresno, who was conferring with Bohart associate Jerry Powell, emeritus director of the Essig Museum, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Berkeley, and author of California Insects. Powell's expertise includes the New World Tortricinae (Tortricoidea) and Ethmiinae (Gelechioidea).
Marc Epstein, senior insect biosystematist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture and author of the newly published book, Moths, Myths and Mosquitoes: the Eccentric life of Harrison G. Dyer Jr., discussed specimens with Jeff Smith and Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart.
Entomologist Rick Kelson, who directs the butterfly habitat at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, and associate curator Shanda Witham, associate curator, were there looking over specimens. Kelson studied entomology as a graduate student with Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis. The butterfly habitat at Six Flags is a 100-foot-by-50-foot glass atrium, and was the first major walk-through butterfly habitat in the western United States when it opened in 1988.
Photos of the newly discovered moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, briefly drew the attention of the lepidopterists. Bohart Museum associate/research entomologist Thomas "Tom" Zavortink and colleagues collected the tiny moth with the orange-yellow and brown wings in the Algodones Dunes, bordering Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. The moth was among insects loaned to evolutionary biologist and systematist Vazrick Nazari of Canada, who sifted through the collection and made note of the new species. He named it after President Trump, and published the data Jan. 17 in the journal ZooKeys.
The Bohart Museum is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the home of nearly eight million specimens, collected globally. The museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane, is open to the public Monday through Thursday and also hosts special weekend open houses.
Meanwhile, the Bohart is gearing up for the sixth annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day when the Bohart will be one of 12 museums or collections open to the public. The event, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will "showcase natural history, biodiversity and the cultural-ecological interface," said coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum. The open house is free and open to all; parking is also free. All collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
We just received word that noted ecologist Richard “Rick” Karban, professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has been named a fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) for “his innovative contributions to community and evolutionary ecology, especially through providing conceptual advances and rigorous experimental work on plant-insect interactions."
Karban, an international authority on plant communication, is the "go-to" person when folks want a news story about plant communication or when scientists want to research plant sensing and communication.
“Rick's pioneering discoveries on plant communication through volatile compounds certainly merit this recognition,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Karban authored the 240-page book, Plant Sensing and Communication (University of Chicago Press), considered a landmark in its field.
ESA, in announcing its list of 27 fellows today (Feb. 6), said that its fellowship program recognizes the many ways in which its members contribute to ecological research and discovery, communication, education and pedagogy, and management and policy.
“Plants responded more effectively to volatile cues from close relatives than from distant relatives in all four experiments and communication reduced levels of leaf damage experienced over the three growing seasons,” they wrote.
The gist of it: if you're a sagebrush and a predator (such as a grasshopper) is eating your nearby kin, another sagebrush, it's good to be closely related. Through volatile (chemical) cues, your kin will inform you of the danger so you can adjust your defenses. Yes, plants can communicate
Karban was featured in a December 2013 edition of The New Yorker in Michael Pollan's piece, “The Intelligent Plant: Scientists Debate a New Way of Understanding Plants."
Karban and his graduate student, Eric Lopresti, also drew widespread interest when they announced that their woolly bear caterpillars can predict whether a Republican or Democrat will be elected to the White House. When the population of woolly bear caterpillars (Ranchman's Tiger Moth, Platyprepia virginalis) at their research site at the Bodega Marine Reserve thrives, a Democrat heads to the White House, they said. When the population dives (as it did this year), a Republican occupies the oval office. (See Bug Squad blog).
And why not? “Paul the Octopus had a pretty good run predicting soccer matches in 2012, so perhaps the woolly bears have earned as much credibility at forecasting this presidential election,” Karban related. Who says scientists don't have fun?
Highly honored by his peers, Karban is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and recipient of the 1990 George Mercer Award from ESA for outstanding research. He was named an outstanding professor, ecology, at UC Davis in 1986. He has published three books and more than 100 journal articles.
Karban received his bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Haverford (Penn.) College in 1977 and his doctorate in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1982. He joined the UC Davis faculty in May 1982 as an assistant professor, advancing to associate professor in 1988 and to full professor in 1994.
Overall, it was a great day today for UC Davis ecologists. Also selected fellows were:
- Anurag Agrawal, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, who received his doctorate at entomology at UC Davis in 1999, studying with Rick Karban. Agrawal was singled out his “innovative contributions to community and evolutionary ecology, especially through providing conceptual advances and rigorous experimental work on plant-insect interactions.”
- John Stachowicz, professor of evolution and ecology, of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology “for his fundamental contributions to the fields of symbiosis andmutualism,multi-trophic species interactions,biogeography, and invasion biology.”
ESA established its fellows program in 2012 with the goal of honoring its members and supporting their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the Society, at their institutions, and in broader society, said spokesperson Lisa Lester.
The 10,000-member Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world's largest community of professional ecologists. They're committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth, and some 4000 attend the Annual Meeting, featuring the most recent advances in ecological science. The Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives.
She's only eight years old, but already she's interested in butterflies.
Itzel Martinez of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, entered her display on "How to Create a Butterfly Garden" at the recent Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, where youths share what they've learned in their projects and gain experience in honing their presentation skills.
"Would you like to add some excitement to your garden?" she asked. "How about butterflies? Butterflies are attracted to specific plants."
Itzel went on to list the steps involved in butterfly gardening, including (1) doing research, (2) choosing host plants (3) choosing nectar plants (4) purchasing plants, (5) planting them and (6) enjoying them.
Who knows? She may turn out to be another butterfly guru like Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis who has studied butterflies for more than four decades and maintains a website on his research.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in gardening for butterflies, mark your calendar. The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis has scheduled an open house for Sunday, March 19 on “Eggs to Wings: Backyard Butterfly Gardening.” The event, free and open to the public, will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
We're in the throes of winter, but spring is rapidly approaching: March 20.
Her research includes fear as a biological control.
Meet Jennifer Thaler, professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and the 2017 recipient of the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Award from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Professor Thaler will be honored at a reception from 3:30 to 4:15 on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the International House, located at 10 College Park, Davis. Following the reception, she will present a seminar in the International House conference room from 4:15 to 5 p.m. on "Tritrophic Interactions and the Ecology of Fear."
Her areas of expertise are population and community ecology, plant-insect interactions, tri-trophic interactions and chemical ecology. "I study the ecological interactions between plants, herbivores, and carnivores in wild and agricultural Solanaceous plant species," she says. "My approach focuses on understanding behavioral and phytochemical mechanisms of such tri-trophic interactions, testing theory on the organization of multi-trophic communities, and generating novel strategies to control insect pests."
If you look on her website, you'll see a piece she co-authored for Cornell Agricultural IPM (Integrated Pest Management) on "Fear as a Biological Control? How Scaring Farm and Garden Pests Could Lessen Plant Damage."
"For many of us, the threats of predators--lions and bears, say--are long gone," she and Nicholas Aflitto wrote. "The common pests in your garden or farm are no exception. Simply the threat of predation can greatly shape an organism's behavior, internal function, and even what it looks like."
"As a pest shifts its energy from feeding and reproduction to hiding or dropping off of plants, it becomes less able to function or even survive." Be sure to read the entire piece and how a prey's response to the risk of predation is termed the non-consumptive effect (NCE). The authors wrote that NCE effects "can be observed in nearly all predator-prey interactions, both on land and in water."
Thaler, who received her bachelor of science degree in biology, cum laude, from Wellesley College in 1993 and her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis with major professor Rick Karban in 1999, joined the Cornell University faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor. She advanced to associate professor in 2006, and to full professor in 2015.
She's a member of the Entomological Society of America, the Ecological Society of America and the International Society of Chemical Ecology.
The professor presented a invited seminar at the 2017 Gordon Research Conference, Rhode Island, on "Plant-Herbivore Interactions, Tritrophic Interactions and the Ecology of Fear" and a presentation on Predator-Prey Interactions: Chemical Ecology of Tri-Trophic Interactions" at the 2016 Gordon Research Conference.
The Leigh Alumni Award memorializes cotton entomologist Thomas Frances Leigh (1923-1993) and his wife Nina. Leigh was an international authority on the biology, ecology and management of arthropod pests affecting cotton production. During his 37-year UC Davis career, he was based at the Kern County Shafter Research and Extension Center, also known as the U.S. Cotton Research Station. Leigh researched pest and beneficial arthropod management in cotton fields, and host plant resistance in cotton to insects, mites, nematodes and diseases. Leigh joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1958, retiring in 1991 as an emeritus professor, but he continued to remain active in his research and collaboration until his death on Oct. 26, 1993.
It's an honor to be selected for the Leigh Alumni Award. Congratulations, Professor Jennifer Thaler!