Arachnid UCEs!!

Dr Brant Faircloth has developed an Ultraconserved Element (UCE) probe set for arachnid phylogenetics. In collaboration with Brant, John McCormack & Rob Bryson, members of the Hedin lab (thank you Jim & Shahan!!!) tested this probe set on a diverse sample of arachnids, at multiple phylogenetic levels.  The results are remarkably promising.  A preprint can be found here.


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Coyle & Shear reprints find a new home

Drs. Bill Shear & Fred Coyle are arachnological legends, true scholars, kind and wonderful gentlemen. I was fortunate to meet Bill & Fred early in my career … they have been friends and inspirational mentors since this time.


Highlands Spider Course, 1992

I was able to visit with Bill & Fred on a recent trip to Appalachia.


One of the remarkable outcomes of this visit was a donation of reprint libraries – Fred’s spider reprints, Bill’s Opiliones literature (and many specimens!!).  These treasures have found a new home at SDSU. Thank you Bill & Fred, I promise to treat these with care, and when the time comes, pass them to the next arachnological generation.



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New species described in DiDomenico & Hedin

Published a new paper today with prior MS student Angela DiDomenico.  Congrats Angela!  Our work on Sitalcina harvestmen resulted in the discovery of two new species, both from California.  We were honored to name one of the species after Darrell Ubick, a giant among North American harvestman researchers.  Darrell has helped many of my students through the years, and I’m truly thankful for his science, kindness and generosity.  ubicki

We also used molecular phylogenetics to clearly show that species from the California deserts are allied with Arizona sky island taxa, rather than with adjacent coastal CA taxa. We hypothesize that this interesting biogeography is related to plate tectonics, and perhaps associated with a Madro-Tertiary Geoflora.  You can find the Zookeys article  here.

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In the news …

Thanks VERY much to Gary Robbins for writing this story about Hedin lab research



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Harvestman Biogeography in California

If you’re interested in California biogeography, I invite you to read this paper.


This publication results from the fine MS thesis research of my prior student Kristen Emata. A very compelling story of an apparently old CA lineage with roots in the southern Sierra Nevada. From these roots, the genus has diversified into > 25 species and has somehow crossed the Central Valley multiple times. Similar selective pressures in Coastal versus Sierran habitats have forced convergent morphological change in distant phylogenetic relatives.  A very, very cool story. And thanks again to DE for his foundational and inspirational work!





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Shahan Derkarabetian wins NSF DDIG!

Huge congratulations to Shahan for receiving this well-deserved and highly prestigious NSF award!  Getting Shahan back to the Hedin lab has been an amazing blessing, thank you Shahan.


Hedin & Derkarabetian in Japan

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The story of Cryptomaster behemoth

Members of the Hedin lab recently published a paper describing this new harvestman species. Here’s a video that tells more of the story.

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Richart et al Published in MPE

Congratulations to Casey for publishing the first Chapter of his dissertation in MPE.  Casey used a combination of Sanger and transcriptome data to explore a deep trichotomy in a group of Dyspnoi harvestmen, providing clear advances in the systematics of the group, while also contributing interesting empirical data related to the “concatenation versus deep species tree” controversy.  Thanks also to co-author Cheryl Hayashi for key contributions throughout the data collection, analysis and publication process.


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visiting researcher Manju Siliwal

The Hedin lab was happy to host Manju Siliwal in early November. Manju works for an NGO in southern India, but lives in Dehradun, North India. She is keenly interested in the mygalomorph spider fauna of India, and has published many papers on this fauna in recent years.


Manju and PCR

Manju practiced standard molecular systematics data collection in the Hedin lab, and will hopefully be able to use some of these methods in her home country.  Manju has a great passion for Indian mygals, and I look forward to continued collaboration. Thanks for visiting Manju!

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When I think of Bill Stanley, I smile

When I was an undergrad at Humboldt State University I was primarily mentored by three faculty members (Richard Hurley, Tim Lawlor, Steve Smith), but I spent most of my time with then MS student Bill Stanley. Bill helped to curate the HSU Mammal Collection, and “took me under his wing” as a UG volunteer curatorial assistant. Bill ultimately landed at the Field Museum, most recently serving as Director of the Gantz Family Collection Center.  Bill died unexpectedly this week, trapping small mammals in Africa.  A story can be found here.

billBill Stanley was a wonderful, warm, hilarious man.  His passion for biology, and life in general, was infectious.  I fondly remember cold mornings in Humboldt County, checking vole traps with Bill, then heading back to Arcata in his old van, stopping in for Los Bagles. Backpacking in the Trinity Alps, camping next to a huge black bear sow in a misty meadow.  Camping in the remote Sheep Mountains of Nevada in an old cabin, catching pallid bats, talking about chipmunk species. Thinking of Bill reminds me of why I love biology, and reminds me to transfer and display this passion to my students. When I think of Bill Stanley, I smile.

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