Satler et al makes Systematic Biology Highly Cited list

Free open access PDF here

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Collecting Japananse harvestmen

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L-R: Shahan, Jim, Marshal, Nobuo

A group from SDSU (myself, Shahan Derkarabetian, Jim Starrett) just returned from a wonderful collecting trip in Japan.  We were hosted and escorted by Dr Nobuo Tsurusaki, an expert on Japanese harvestmen from Tottori University.  Nobuo took us to many excellent montane sites on Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.  Reminded me very much of the Appalachians, although the landscape is much steeper and younger. Travunioids were our primary target, and we collected many, including Kaiononychus, Nippononychus, Metanippononychus, and Yuria.  Photos from the trip can be found here.

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Kainonychus akamai

Of course we also found other harvestmen – highlights for me included the Dyspnoi taxa Nipponopsalis, Cladolasma, and various Sabacon species. Nobuo also sensed our interest in mygalomorphs, and delivered with five genera, including Antrodiaetus, Calommata, Atypus, Lautouchia, and Conothele.  These were pretty spectacular, but really couldn’t be matched by the mesothele Heptathela.  In the end, I suppose that none of these arthropods could be matched by the one-meter-long Japanese Giant salamander …. if you know what this is, then you know what I mean.  If you don’t, please read more about Andrias japonicus.  We owe special thanks to Dr. Sumio Okada for taking us to see these mythical beasts.

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Japanese giant salamander

Finally, I’d like to thank my lab members Jim & Shahan for their hard work.  We kinda knew this was going to be a fun trip …. we indeed had a great time.  Lawson Station anyone?? 🙂

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Two stellar MS students are movin on….

Dave Carlson defended his MS thesis in June, entitled “De novo assembly, characterization and comparative analysis of entelegyne spider transcriptomes (Araneae: Entelegynae)”.  Dave will be moving to the Hollister Lab at Stony Brook University to pursue his PhD.

Dave & Marshal

Kristen Emata defended in July.  Her thesis was entitled  “Molecular systematics, historical biogeography, and paedomorphic character evolution in the harvestmen genus Calicina (Opiliones, Laniatores)”Kristen will be taking a short break from academia, but I sincerely hope that she returns – she’s a tremendous talent.

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Kristen talks about Calicina

Dave & Kristen were AWESOME graduate students in all ways possible – it’s time for them to move on, but they will be sorely missed in the Hedin lab  😦

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Trout Lake lava tubes

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!!

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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.

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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!

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Thanks to Scott Tremor!

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.

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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!

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Peromyscus fraterculus

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Allan Cabrero wins NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!!

Congratulations to MS student Allan Cabrero for winning a coveted NSF GRF!!  A well-deserved game changer for Allan!!

N of Orick, MCH 14_017-2

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Desert Mammalogy Trip, Spring 2015

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 🙂

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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.

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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

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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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