It’s official. University of California, Davis scientists who manage campus biological collections have just received a five-year, $4 million grant to research the biodiversity of fungi, bacteria, plants, insects and vertebrates on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a southeast Asian island threatened by the loss of biodiversity in its tropical forests.
The International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program is funding the grant. This is a multi-agency program led by the National Institutes of Health with contributions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.
Principal investigator Daniel Potter, a plant systematist at the Agricultural Experiment Station and director of the UC Davis Herbarium, said “the alarming rate at which biodiversity is being lost in many tropical regions has resulted in an urgent need for such efforts.”
The grant, “Biodiversity Surveys in
The international team involved in the grant includes UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and three
Biodiversity refers to all living things in a region and to their interactions of with each other and their surroundings.
The results are expected to aid human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.
The project is sorely needed, said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology. “For biologists,
The Bohart houses some seven million specimens from throughout the world and is the seventh largest insect museum in
Potter described it as an extraordinary opportunity. "When the call for the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group grant proposals came out in the fall of 2007, several of us involved in management of the biological collections here at UC Davis thought this could be an extraordinary opportunity to initiate a project that would include study of organisms in the multiple taxonomic groups (fungi, bacteria, plants, insects, vertebrates) covered by our collections and to engage in international collaborative research with implications for human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.”
Potter said that two other key participants in the project are his former student, Jeanine Pfeiffer, research director for social sciences at the Earthwatch Institute, and Elizabeth Widjaja, research botanist at Herbarium Bogoriense,
“Thanks to the excellent hard work of many colleagues at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and three Indonesian institutions, and with the wonderful guidance and assistance of the outstanding Interdisciplinary Research Support group in the Office of Research here at UC Davis, we were able to put together a strong proposal for an ambitious and exciting project," Potter said.
UC Davis is the lead institution from the
The project is organized into six associate programs: macro-organism surveys, led by Widjaja, microbial surveys, led by discovery of energy solutions, led by discovery of human health solutions, led by Len Bjeldanes, professor of toxicology, UC Berkeley; conservation research and vertebrate surveys, led by and conservation partnerships, training and ethics, led by Pfeiffer.
“We will also be forming partnerships with private companies aimed at the commercial development of natural products for pharmaceuticals and energy production,” Potter said. They have also lined up collaborators from several other leading research institutions, including the
Potter said the results of the project will make significant contributions to a broad range of issues, including
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy neeeds
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy needs
- development of effective biodiversity conservation strategies and proactive outreach and education programs to promote those strategies
- establishment of models for effective and equitable internatinal collaborative partnerships and ethical and sustainable international sharing of biogenetic resources
the Preclinical Development Group at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
It's a sad photo.
The antenna of a honey bee pokes out of an abandoned hive. Victim of colony collapse disorder (CCD)? Perhaps.
Everytime I look at the bent antenna, I think of a plea for help. Help me! Help me! Please help me! This bee should have been nectaring flowers or gathering pollen.
This hive once belonged to entomologists Robert and Lynn Kimsey of UC Davis. She's the director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chairs the Department of Entomology. He's the sole forensic entomologist in the department.
CCD was one of the topics at the eighth annual international conference of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), held Oct. 22-24 in Washington, D.C.
The participants--farmers, scientists, and environmental advocates--agreed that we need to find ways to increase public awareness of pollinators. Pollinator Partnership chair Robert Lang described the loss of pollinators as "a potential health crisis for the planet."
Scores of beekeepers have witnessed a crisis in an individual bee hive.
Like the one below.
(Like to help with the honey bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis? Access this site.)
The "headgear" was actually a Giant New Guinea Walking Stick crawling up the face of Eric San Gregorio, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology at UC Davis.
The occasion: the Bohart Museum's "Happy Halloween" open house on Thursday, Oct. 23.
See, the Bohart Musuem at 1124 Academic Surge, UC Davis, not only houses seven million specimens (it's the seventh largest insect museum in North America) but it also showcases live critters--like Madagascar hissing cockroaches, giant spiders and walking sticks.
About the Giant New Guinea Walking Stick (Eurycantha calcarata): it's from the order Phasmatodea and is native to New Guinea. It can grow up to six inches long. It's covered in spines. The males have large spikes on their back femurs while females have a larger abdomen ending in an oviposter, or egg-laying organ.
The walking stick dines on bramble, rose and guava.
It does not dine on little children.
Janice Calvento, 7, of Sacramento loved the honey bees, the honey tasting, the bee observation hive and just about everything else at the open house.
She did not like the walking stick walking up Eric's face.
(Note: an article on the Bohart Museum open house, with photos, will appear in the next edition of the Bohart Museum Society newsletter)
UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey is a genius, to be sure. Show him a fly and he'll tell you exactly what it is and what it's all about.
I shot this photo at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. The honey bee looked huge and the fly, tiny. There they were together. (Ah, if you let your imagination run wild, there's a children's book there! Once upon a time, a bee and a fly...)
The fly is a minute black scavenger fly (Scatopsidae). You see these flies around decomposing matter (in this case, dead bees). After all, worker bees live only four to six weeks in the summer. During that time, they encounter all sorts of killers, such as diseases, pesticides, parasites, stress, climate change, intruders, and the mysterious colony collapse disorder).
Kimsey, an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is known for not only his expertise on flies and his courtroom testimony, but his award-winning teaching. I'm not sure which is the most popular: the CSI television series or Kimsey's classes. (My bet: his classes!)
When I visited a local farmers' market in late September, a UC Davis animal science major mentioned how much she enjoyed his class. "Kimsey, that's it!" she said. "Dr. Kimsey. He's really good."
He is, and he's a genius, too!
Some folks wear their heart on their sleeve.
Others wear a dragonfly on their chest.
As part of its public outreach education program and to showcase the world of insects, the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the
The t-shirt, designed by entomology doctoral candidate Fran Keller, features the white-belted ringtail, also known as a gomphid dragonfly, from the family Gomphidae.
UC Davis undergraduate student William Yuen, a part-time employee at the Bohart, traced the insect from a photo taken by
The dragonfly also appears on the Bohart’s “California Dragonfly Poster,” the work of Keller and Kareofelas.
“William is an excellent artist, a brilliant student, a hard worker and has worked in the museum for two years,” said Keller. “I wanted to immortalize him and his talent and for his contributions to the museum.”
“This drawing is so precise you could identify this dragonfly by its wing venation,” Keller said. The insect order (Odonata), family, species name and common name appear beneath the wing.
Keller said more than 5000 species of dragonflies exist worldwide. “Dragonflies don’t harm people; they don’t bite or sting,” she said.
What else about dragonflies?
- Female dragonflies lay their eggs in or near water.
- They beat their wings about 30 beats per second (bps), compared to a honey bee’s 300 bps
- In both their larval and adult stages, dragonflies eat mosquitoes. The larvae eat mosquito nymphs and other insects. As adults, they grab mosquitoes and other insects in mid-air.
Proceeds will benefit the Bohart’s insect outreach education program. The museum, directed by entomologist Lynn Kimsey, chair of the Department of Entomology, is home to more than seven million specimens.
For more information, see http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact the museum at (530) 752-0493.