Location: Systematic Entomology
Project Number: 1245-22000-266-00
Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2015
Morphological characters will be identified through the examination of specimens using dissecting, Differential Interference Contrast (DIC), Phase Contrast, Confocal microscopes and low temperature scanning electron microscopy (LT-SEM). The novel characters available with LT-SEM will be investigated and assessed using a minimum of 10 species from each genus, or more as time and resources permit. The validity of key characters for separating species and genera will be investigated across the family. As part of the data-gathering process, numerous techniques will be used to assess homology and variation in structural characteristics. Measurements and basic statistical data (i.e. range, mean) are often a part of this assessment. Characters will be scored as either discrete or continuous and ordered or unordered, and compiled into a data matrix for analysis. Analyses of the morphological data to construct hypotheses of evolutionary relationships will be conducted using PAUP and MrBayes. MrBayes for Bayesian analyses, and PAUP for parsimony analyses. Although the research will focus primarily on morphological and ecological characters, these data sets will be augmented with molecular data (COI, 18s, 28s, EF-1') obtained from collaborators at the University of Arkansas. Character information will include the external and internal morphology of mounted peacock mites, genus Tuckerella adults and immatures, combined with the molecular data. Identification tools will be developed for users to identify a specific organism among similar organisms and associate a name with that organism. This project will produce traditional dichotomous keys for this purpose, as well as electronic and/or interactive tools that facilitate identifications (e.g., LucID, DELTA). Throughout this project, an additional goal of curating (including remounting and relabelling where needed) and databasing the sections of the collection held in the US National Mite Collection (USNMC) will be met. Mite specimens submitted to the Systematic Entomology Laboratory for identification will be prioritized primarily by importance of their impact, invasive behavior, the number of interceptions, and the commodity involved. The Taxonomic Services Unit is responsible for distributing arthropod specimens submitted for identification to the appropriate SEL research entomologists or collaborators. When the specialists have identified and added their identifications to SELIS, TSU generates a report which is sent to submitters. The TSU coordinates with APHIS, PPQ on a daily basis on various issues relating to identification of specimens intercepted at ports-of-entry or in domestic surveys, especially those specimens with URGENT priority from shipments being detained at ports of entry pending receipt of identification reports from SEL. This objective will result in more than 13,000 identifications (34,000 specimens/year), along with associated biological information, of arthropods annually to customers dependent upon these data for the exclusion of invasive species, assessing potential biological control agents, systematic and biological research, and in support of regulatory programs.