SYSTEMATICS OF MOTHS, LEAFHOPPERS, AND TRUE BUGS OF IMPORTANCE TO AGRICULTURAL, FOREST, AND ORNAMENTAL PLANTS
Project Number: 1275-22000-232-00
Start Date: Mar 18, 2005
End Date: Feb 18, 2010
The three general objectives of this project are: (1) to conduct systematic studies on plant pests (including invasive species)and beneficial insect groups of importance to U.S. agriculture; (2) to develop electronic resources to enhance technology transfer of research products via the web; and (3) to provide expert identification and curatorial services. Specific groups to be examined include leafroller moths (Tortricidae), cutworm moths (Noctuidae), snout moths (Crambidae), true bugs (Miridae), and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Knowledge of their classification and relationships is essential for accurate identification, for assessing host specificity for potential biological control agents, and for developing hypotheses of which species have the greatest likelihood of invading and establishing within the U.S. The project will supply authoritative identifications to action agencies and other customers and curatorial care for the National Insect Collection.
The proposed research uses morphological, biological, biogeographical, and molecular data to classify and characterize difficult groups that are considered either pests (owing to their plant-feeding habit or ability to vector plant pathogens) or beneficials (owing to their predatory habits or their selective herbivory on noxious weeds). To capture data we will use a combination of light and scanning electron microscopy, computer aided character analysis and phylogeny estimation, molecular characterization of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and digital imaging and photography. Specimens for analysis will be acquired from a variety of sources including exploration and field work and borrowing material from other major institutions, and will be accomplished through cooperation with colleagues and collaborators worldwide. The research products will be incorporated into web-based tools for the broadest dissemination of the information.