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Insect Diversity

The science of Entomology has the unique task of understanding ~80% of the species on Earth, of which most (perhaps 85%) remain undescribed. Compared to most disciplines in biology, entomology is still in an early exploratory and descriptive phase; new taxa, distributions, and lifestyles are discovered continuously. The enormous impacts to humans implicit in insect diversity, biology, behavior, and abundance- as taxa, as pests, and as genetic resources for biotechnology- remain mostly undeveloped and unappreciated by society. A major obstacle to the use of insect resources is the lack of scientific knowledge of their diversity. To be used effectively, insect diversity must be discovered, described, and organized. Predictive, comprehensive classifications are prerequisite for research and sustainable use.

Museum Purpose

The general purpose of any natural history museum is to collect, describe, organize, and explain life's diversity and evolution. Systematics (essentially "the study of any and all organisms and the relationships between them") is the discipline most essential to this purpose. Unfortunately, few institutions are dedicated to providing collection-based systematic support.

Iowa State Insect Collection

The Iowa State Insect Collection (ISIC), which is housed in the Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, is the only major entomological collection in the state of Iowa. The collection initially was established as a combined entomological and zoological (mostly vertebrates) collection housed in Science I. In 1972, shortly before Entomology became a separate department, the insect collection was moved to the fourth floor of Science II. The ISIC is of national and international importance because it is a primary source of insect specimens from prairie habitats of Iowa, and because of significant collections by H.H. Knight, J.A. Slater, and H.M Harris (Hemiptera), J.L. Laffoon and W.A. Rowley (Diptera), R.L. Lewis (Siphonaptera), and G W. Courtney (Diptera and aquatic insects). Although the majority of specimens are from Iowa and the upper Midwest, the collection houses abundant representation from other North American  localities. Significant international collections include specimens from Asia (especially India, Nepal, and Thailand), Central America (especially Costa Rica), South America (especially Patagonia), and Australasia.

The collection maintains global holdings for taxa of prior and current research  focus (e.g., Miridae,  Siphonaptera, Blephariceridae,  and Mycetophilidae). ISIC is of national and international importance because it is a primary source of insect specimens from prairie habitats of Iowa, and because of significant collections by H.H. Knight, J.A. Slater, and H.M Harris (Hemiptera), J.L. Laffoon and W.A. Rowley (Diptera), R.L. Lewis (Siphonaptera), and G W. Courtney (Diptera and aquatic insects). Although the majority of specimens are from Iowa and the upper Midwest, the collection houses abundant representation from other North American  localities. Significant international collections include specimens from Asia (especially India, Nepal, and Thailand), Central America (especially Costa Rica), South America (especially Patagonia), and Australasia.

The Iowa State Insect Collection serves as:

  1. valuable research collection for resident and visiting systematists
  2. work_ing tool for systematic studies and identification needs of state and federal scientists, private users, and systematists from other countries
  3. repository for voucher specimens from projects conducted by faculty, students, and colleagues
  4. resource for identifications & confirmations by research and extension faculty & staff
  5. entomological resource for students at Iowa State University and other educational institutions in the state of Iowa
  6. A valuable resource for public education and outreach.

Holdings

Indicators

Synergistic Activities

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