Just back from a collecting trip in south-central WA, collecting Speleonychia harvestmen from lava tubes west of Trout Lake, near Mt Adams. The field crew included MS student Allan Cabrero and PhD student Shahan Derkarabetian. We were also assisted by local grotto members Ahrlin Bauman & Garry Petrie – thanks Ahrlin & Garry for taking the time to help us out!!
Marshal, Allan & Shahan in Wildcat Cave; photo by Ahrlin Bauman
Allan is conducting a landscape genomics project on Speleonychia, attempting to understand how subterranean features (e.g., lava tube connectedness, age, etc) impact patterns of gene exchange in this narrowly-endemic, cave-obligate species. We were able to find Speleonychia in most tubes, but they seem to exist at low densities, and are certainly microhabitat specific, even within tubes.
Speleonychia sengeri from Jug Cave
We also encountered many other specialized lava tube dwellers, including ice-crawlers, troglomorphic diplurans, and cave spiders. The caving was sometimes painful (especially the “cheese grater”), but really rewarding!
Scott Tremor is a mammalogist at the San Diego Natural History Museum. This semester he was kind enough to host the SDSU Mammalogy course at the museum, showcasing the Nat Mammal collections, and demonstrating a mammal specimen prep.
Scott also led two separate small mammal trapping events at Mission Trails Regional Park. Here students gained valuable, hands on field experience. Thanks Scott for providing these excellent learning experiences and for inspiring SDSU students!
Congratulations to MS student Allan Cabrero for winning a coveted NSF GRF!! A well-deserved game changer for Allan!!
Recently took many members of my SDSU Mammalogy class on an overnight camp in Indian Gorge, Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Beautiful, windless weather conditions. Excellent food grilled up by my old friend Jose Macias. In the morning we were real close to a large herd of Desert Bighorn – the herd scrambled up a precarious ridgeline to meet up with another group carrying at least 5 small lambs. Very neat. Also observed behavioral thermoregulation in an antelope ground squirrel, foraging on poppies in the hot sun, then off-loading heat on the shaded portion of a granitic rock. Again, quite excellent. The evening prior we hiked to a palm grove, saw eyeshine of a large carnivore high on the boulder cliffs, and listened to dozens of large molossid bats flying above. About 78 degrees F, warm desert breeze, millions of stars. Stunning :)
I’ve been wanting to share SDSU & Hedin lab specimen data online for quite some time. For at least 10 years. Working in a small museum, without IT support, has hampered these efforts. I’ve finally taken the initiative to join SCAN, the Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network. The IT folks at SCAN have been wonderfully supportive in providing a place for the SDSU Terrestrial Arthropods collection data. Our general plan is to start with harvestmen, then include spiders, then the TAC insects. In addition to “clean”, high-quality georeferenced specimen data, we’ll also be including nice digital images. I’m thankful to the graduate students and undergrads who are helping me in this effort.
If you’re interested, go to the SCAN portal (link above), “Search Collections” (e.g., by species name, higher taxon, common name, etc), then be amazed with the excellent maps, data, and images available. Powerful stuff with unlimited potential.
L to R: Darrell Ubick, Jim Starrett, Shahan Derkarabetian, Allan Cabrero
A few members of the Hedin lab recently traveled to the CAS to learn harvestmen morphology “tricks of the trade” from Darrell Ubick, Senior Curatorial Assistant at the CAS. Darrell is world renowned for his expertise on the morphology and taxonomy of North American laniatores harvestmen. Thanks to Darrell for his kindness & insight, helping to inspire and educate the next generation of harvestmen researchers.
Like kids in a candy store we were also able to examine and loan a fair number of important CAS specimens. Vic Smith was also kind enough to show us some of his methods for whole-animal digital imaging. And thanks to Charles Griswold for helping to facilitate this visit!
Included below are two videos that detail i) extracting Laniatores genitalia, and ii) Specimen prep for the SEM.
Allan takes home second place in UG TMP SysEB competition, based on summer robber fly research. Nice work Allan!!