R. Isaí Madriz, an ISU Entomology alumni, recently had one of his stories published as part of the National Geographic Voices project. This story is part of a nine month project with Fulbright and National Geographic exploring Chile's Northern Patagonia Ice Field. While studying at ISU, Isaí was a graduate research student in Dr. Greg Courtney's Research Lab and his responsibilities included work with the Iowa State Insect Collection.
In his time at Iowa State, Isaí’s interests focused on the ecological adaptations, phylogeny and biogeographical distribution of Diptera. His core research project at ISU was a systematic revision of the “Primitive Craneflies” (family Tanyderidae), a poorly known group of aquatic nematocerous Diptera. Tanyderidae are rarely collected and little is known about the family’s natural history. Species concepts within the family have been broad and based on a limited suite of characters. One of the primary goals of Isaí's revision was reexamining species diversity using existing and new character systems, supplemented with intensive sampling and field observation of the North American and Patagonian fauna. Furthermore, his work reevaluated the group’s classification utilizing morphological and molecular characters within a cladistic framework, allowing further inference such as historical patterns of biogeography. Isaí also conducted biotic inventories of other aquatic insects in Patagonia, a project that aimed to develop reliable rapid survey techniques of the taxonomic composition and diversity of stream ecosystems. These tools can be used to improve biodiversity knowledge and assist in the conservation and protection of the region’s aquatic biota.
Isaí currently is a Fulbright - National Geographic Fellow studying the insect fauna surrounding the Northern Patagonia Ice Field. To keep up on Isaí's work, you can visit his website.