The lab has been involved in a number of projects that focus on the biodiversity of aquatic insects in Thailand. Most involve collaborations with several institutions, including Kasetsart University (Bangkok) and Chiang Mai University (Chiang Mai) in Thailand. The most recent of these projects focused on
Riparian habitats contain a rich diversity of organisms and serve as important linkages between freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Insects are a critical component of these ecosystems because of their numerical abundance, taxonomic diversity, and trophic significance. Aquatic insects are unique in that most species cross the interface and, thus, affect energy exchange between and within freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.
The project "Biodiversity of lotic aquatic insects of northern Thailand", a National Science Foundation (Biotic Surveys and Inventories) project (DEB-0103144), included inventory of all lotic insects, revisionary systematics of several taxa, the collection of ecological and distributional data for many resident species, and the construction of web-based and traditional resources for taxonomic, distributional, and ecological data.
This is a graduate and upper-level undergraduate course on the morphology, ecology, diversity, and significance of aquatic insects, with emphasis on the collection, curation and identification of taxa in local streams and lakes. The course includes frequent exposure to live insects, training in collection methods, field trips to local habitats, and an optional Spring-break trip to the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Despite the prevalence of corn- and soybean fields around Ames, central Iowa has a number of excellent locations for collecting aquatic insects. These include several rivers, lakes and marshes within easy driving (or bicycling) distance of Iowa State University. The following are but a few possibilities (click on links to see image galleries):
An estimated two million species are known to science, with nearly half of these being insects. Although these numbers may seem impressive, they represent a small fraction of the diversity thought to exist. Because the vast majority of species remain undiscovered and unnamed, there is an acute need for revisionary studies. Megadiverse taxa such as the Diptera are especially problematic because of the shortage of practicing systematists.