2006 Ground Beetle Short Course was a Success!
The ‘Natural History and Taxonomy of Ground Beetles’ short course was held at the Oak Lake Field Station in Brookings County, SD from June 25-28, 2006. Twelve students from seven states attended the course, which covered the four general units discussed below. Instructors discussed their areas of specialization, and various activities in the laboratory and the field (as well as beautiful weather!) made for an enjoyable several days. The course was held in association with NCERA-125, the Midwestern Carabidologist’s Working Group, South Dakota State University, and USDA-ARS.
Taxonomy of Carabidae
Foster Purrington and Jonathan Lundgren
This was by far the most time consuming portion of the course (students sometimes stayed until after 8 P.M., tied to their scopes). Using the key to genera published in American Beetles Volume I (and other literature sources), the students were introduced to the key diagnostic features of carabid genera. At times, this seemed like it was trying to learn a new language, but for the most part the students came away with how to start identifying their specimens, and were pointed toward resources that can help them in future work.
Feeding behavior of carabids
James Harwood and Jonathan Lundgren
Students were introduced to the incredible diversity of feeding behaviors in carabids, which are typically written off as strict carnivores. The morphology and physiology of feeding guilds was discussed during a lecture by Lundgren. Next Harwood discussed methods used in studying feeding behavior of predaceous insects. Then he led a laboratory that trained the students in ELISA immunoassays, actually screening a number of Cyclotrachelus alternans for Diptera in their stomachs.
Unusual behaviors within a group of insects are often some of the most interesting, and this was certainly the case with the parasitoid carabids discussed by Weber. Weber discussed the historical aspects of the host-carabid associations, and talked on some of the practical aspects of parasitoid carabids. A laboratory examining the feeding behavior of Lebia grandis on Colorado potato beetle helped to underline Weber’s lectures.
O’Neal led a compelling discussion on the complex (and sometimes paradoxical) nature of habitat management in agricultural systems. Small groups were given maps of two farms, and asked to develop a plan for how to manage these farms to maximize the utility of carabids while maintaining a productive agricultural system. Different strategies to accomplish this presented themselves in the groups, and it was interesting to see how different aspects addressed in the course were applied in a ‘real-world’ situation.
All participants got to explore the numerous habitats available at the Oak Lake Field Station. A tour of the vegetation and history of the site was generously provided by Nels Troelstrup (station director) and Gary Larsen (SDSU botanist). Canoeing in the evenings, and campfires helped people relax after a long day of carabiding.
And the Winner Is…
Students had a contest to catch the most intriguing bug at the field station. The winner was this stunning mantispid, collected by Zsofia Szendrei.