Making SDSU specimen data Web accessible

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.

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Travunioid Harvestmen Morphology Workshop at the California Academy of Sciences


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.

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Allan Cabrero wins Best Student Talk Award at ESA!

Allan takes home second place in UG TMP SysEB competition, based on summer robber fly research.  Nice work Allan!!ESA

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New Colorado Harvestmen on the TV News

The anchor persons don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about arachnids, but hey, how often do harvestmen make the news!!   :)   Video here


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SDSU News Center highlights some Hedin Lab Research

Thanks to Mike Price for this write-up on Hedin lab happenings ….


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new Sclerobunus revision published in PLoS One

Research effort of PhD student Shahan Derkarabetian just published in PLoS One, entitled “Integrative taxonomy and species delimitation in harvestmen: A revision of the western North American genus Sclerobunus (Opiliones: Laniatores: Travunioidea)“, PLoS ONE 9(8): e104982.   In my opinion, a superb example of modern taxonomy, using multiple lines of evidence to delimit species using objective criteria, and “finishing the job” by describing emergent species.  This paper serves as a template (ample data, sophisticated analyses,  digitally-rich species descriptions) for our continuing revisionary research on other travunioid harvestmen.  derk&Hed


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Spider Phylogenomics paper published in Current Biology

Our research on spider phylogenomics, led by the Bond Lab at Auburn University, was just published in Current Biology.  We used transcriptomes for about 40 spider families to mine orthologous genes, then conducted a battery of phylogenetic analyses on these very large molecular matrices.  The biggest surprise is the non-monophyly of orb-weaving spiders – cribellate orb-weavers (e.g., Uloborus, etc) are not sister to ecribellate orb-weavers (e.g., araneids, etc).  This result suggests that orb webs evolved early in spider evolution, but have been subsequently lost in a majority of derived lineages.

Non-model genomics enabled by next-generation sequencing is rapidly impacting arachnology …. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next few years!


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