Beetles, wasps, mites, and worms: How parasite ecology improves estimates of - and foments arguments about - global animal species richness.

Monday, February 17, 2020 - 4:10pm
Event Type: 

Dr. Andrew Forbes, University of Iowa, Department of Biology

Co-sponsored by EEB / EEOB.

Abstract. Biologists are interested in identifying particularly species-rich groups because they reveal much about the origin and maintenance of diversity. The order Coleoptera (the beetles) has long been credited with being the most speciose of the insects, and perhaps of all the animals. My lab and others have argued that this impression may be biased by historical patterns of taxonomic enthusiasm and the relative ease by which many beetles can be studied and collected. I will present work that strongly suggests the order Hymenoptera is more species-rich than the beetles, largely due to the diverse but understudied parasitic wasps. I will also discuss how we hope to refine our previously published estimates of relative richness among the insects, and how we might assess the relative richness of other diverse but hard-to-study animals, including mites and nematodes.