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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #431739

Research Project: Promoting Undergraduate Research in Systematics: Insects as a Template for Training

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-317-03-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 28, 2016
End Date: Sep 27, 2021

The objectives of this project center on training undergraduates in biological systematics using insects (especially beetles) as a template for training. Students will gain experience in all aspects of modern specimen-based systematics researching including 1) field collection of specimens, 2) laboratory preparation and examination of specimens, 3) data acquisition including morphology and DNA sequence data using Sanger sequencing, 4) species discovery and description, 5) phylogenetic analysis, and 6) interpretation of results in an evolutionary context. Students will gain knowledge of scientific presentation techniques including peer-reviewed journal articles and oral presentation at scientific meetings. Products will include species descriptions, revisions, phylogenetic analysis and evolutionary examinations within a phylogenetic context.

PI and students will use museum specimens and freshly-collected specimens and traditional laboratory techniques and DNA sequence acquisition methods to gather data for species-level work and phylogenetic analysis as appropriate. Students will use well-established field technique for collecing specimens. They will characterize the morphology of new taxa and fully illustrate or photograph diagnostic features, write keys, and describe new species. They will use Sanger sequencing methods to acquire DNA sequence data. Analyses will include parsimony, likelihood and Bayesian methods. Evolutionary scenarios will be investigated using modern comparative methods.