16 November 2016
This Fall semester the Division of Arthropods is fortunate to have 3 undergraduates working with us, with funding from the US Geological Survey, to help clear out a backlog of samples from Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The samples are for ecological monitoring of ground-dwelling arthropods to study the effects of climate change (Bandelier), or the effects of the 2011 Las Conchas fire (Valles Caldera). The students are separating specimens into basic arthropod groups so the taxonomists can make species identifications and prepare specimens for the museum collection.
The students are working with Mark Ward, the entomologist overseeing the Valles Caldera monitoring; Rachael Alfaro, the GA for our division; and Sandy Brantley, the collection manager for alcohol specimens. Wes said that working with us is like having another class, because we’re there to answer questions about arthropod diversity and evolution.
||Lozen Benson is a junior, changing her academic direction from biology to philosophy, languages and art. She’s considering applying to the Honors College because of her wide range of interests. She’s from Silver City, NM and enjoys the state’s many natural environments.
||Joaquin Garcia is a senior, graduating in December 2016 in biology, with a particular interest in conservation. He attended the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) meeting in Long Beach, CA, earlier this year. Joaquin is applying to graduate schools in Washington, preferably for research in vertebrate conservation.
||Wesley Noe is a senior, graduating in biology with a chemistry minor in May 2017. He is taking Chris Witt’s high altitude biology class this semester and will take Howard Snell’s conservation or wilderness biology class next semester. Wes’s interests are in ecology and sustainability of habitats.
past news stories
21 October 2016
Announcing the Publication of Diving Beetles of the World
The Museum of Southwestern Biology is proud to announce the publication of Diving Beetles of the World by Dr. Kelly Miller, our very own Curator of Arthropods, and co-author Johannes Bergsten of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Diving beetles, Family Dyticidae, are diverse (>4,300 species in 188 genera) aquatic beetles found world-wide that are important predators in freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Essential to ecologists, limnologists, naturalists, and insect taxonomists, Diving Beetles of the World, will help to identify and classify water beetles through richly illustrated keys, high-resolution images, details on life history and biogeography, and maps. Get your copy of the First Edition while they’re still available!
Dr. Miller and Dr. Bergsten at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology.
5 August 2016
Transitions are Common at MSB
The Museum of Southwestern Biology employs many students across our divisions and these student gain valuable hands-on experience in fieldwork, specimen preparation, data literacy and database development, and integration across sample-based research disciplines. This Fall (2016), two of our former student employees are entering the Water Resources Master’s Program at UNM.
Drew Vanetsky took classes (Tropical Biology) and a directed study in island biology course with MSB faculty, worked in the Mammal Division, and then went on a two year walk about in Africa working with a variety of environmental programs. After returning to Albuquerque, he applied to graduate school.
"My favorite part of working at the MSB was processing the mammal specimens, especially the larger ones such as wolves. It was extremely interesting to dissect these specimens, collect tissue and parasite samples, and prepare the skeletons and pelts for storage in the collection. The dissections were excellent practice for my later experience assisting a wildlife veterinarian with necropsies in Southern Africa."
Matt Segura has worked with the Bird and Genomic resources Divisions for the past three years and has been key to processing thousands of bird tissue samples that have come from fieldwork in Andes and in New Mexico.
“Working at MSB opened my eyes to multidisciplinary collaboration. I liked the openness of the museum and the closeness that all the different scientists share. This job showed me what a research job can entail and it allowed me to become a part of that world. I was able to participate in many forms of research, which helped me to ultimately find what my passions are.”
11 April 2016
Meet the New Assistant Curator of the Texas A&M Insect Collection
photo by John Ascher
Congratulations! Karen Wright, a PhD Candidate in the MSB's Division of Arthropods, has been hired as the new Assistant Curator for the Texas A&M University Insect Collection (TAMUIC) in the Department of Entomology. TAMUIC is one of the top insect collections worldwide with nearly 2.8 million specimens covering over 45,000 species! At the MSB, Karen was curatorial graduate assistant for both the Division of Arthropods and the Herbarium. Karen’s dissertation explored the evolution of diet breadth in the bee genus Melissodes and has developed a long-term dataset of bee diversity at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. Karen will arrive at TAMUIC with a broad knowledge of bee and plant taxonomy, where she will not only supervise undergraduate assistants, but also interface with Texas State Agricultural Extension Office, Department of Entomology faculty and graduate students, the public, and other natural history collections at Texas A&M University. Karen has been a tremendous asset to the MSB and will be greatly missed. We wish her great future success and know that TAMUIC is gaining an invaluable resource and dedicated scientist
Texas A&M University Insect Collection
30 November 2015
Remounting Historical Collections at the UNM Herbarium:
The Brother Arsène Collection
The Bee Plant, Peritoma serrulata, attracts pollinators including a Sphynx moth (Hyles lineata) and two bee species (a sweat bee, Agopostemon sp. and a mining bee, Colletes sp.). The Museum of Southwestern Biology captures these important interactions by preserving examples of these species for research, education, and as a historical record of the natural history of the Southwest.
One older specimen, pictured here, was collected by two French monks, Brother Benedict (Marcellin Marien Lacas) and Brother Arsène (Arsène Gustave Joseph Brouard) who lived in Santa Fe in the 1920s and 30s. Their historically important collection of nearly 2000 plants was donated to the Museum of Southwestern Biology by the College of Santa Fe and is now being restored.
This Bee Plant specimen was collected 89 years ago and recently remounted on acid-free paper to ensure that the entire collection will allow future generations to enjoy and study these early records. The collection preserves not only the plant and its label, but also the sense of wonder of two men who independently made journeys from France to the New World and the American frontier via Cuba and Mexico. Just as a work of art can capture a time and place and sense of connection to a landscape, this Rocky Mountain Bee Plant captures the devotion and curiosity within two naturalists’ lives by preserving their aesthetic and attention to the world that they lived in. Many plants mounted on acidic paper suffer some degradation associated with the passage of time using non-archival materials. Now stored on new paper in cool dry conditions, these specimens should be around for research and re-discovery for generations.
All sheets were imaged in their original condition and the original label has been preserved in an acid-free fragment pack. Curating old specimens is time consuming but rewarding. Old or new, our specimens are available to interested visitors to the Museum of Southwestern Biology, and through their images, now to our global web community.
an Albuqueruque Journal article about the aquisition
an article published online about this historical collection
a list of Brother Arséne Brouard's writings
17 February 2015
Holistic Approaches to Conservation of Desert Wetland Ecosystems
Dr. Evan Carson of the MSB Division of Fishes is one of the authors of a recently published book that highlights collaborative efforts at El Pandeño Spring in Julimes, Chihuahua. This holistic project, which encompassed the spring and its surroundings, is the flagship of a larger model for conservation of desert wetlands in arid lands of México.
El Pandeño Spring is highly modified from its natural state, yet it maintains a remarkable suite of native species and even species only found at this site, including the Julimes pupfish. Researchers focused their efforts on this pupfish, but were also interested in a rare isopod, mud snails, and a mosquitofish never described by science. Scientists worked with local landowners and farmers to restore a former marsh, but they also worked to ensure sustainable development of water resources, which are essential for crop irrigation in the community. The authors are happy to report that this cooperative, holistic approach to restoration resulted in a rebound of the pupfish population.
20 January 2015
Too wet for frogs: La Niña disrupts tropical frog leaf litter communities
Extreme climate events such as an El Niño or La Niña weather patterns can wreak havoc on global economies, health systems, and plant and animal communities. In tropical Costa Rica, where rainfall is usually abundant, researchers from the University of New Mexico and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) set out to study the effects of a record-breaking La Niña event on frogs in their natural habitat.
Led by Ph.D. candidate Mason Ryan, the group surveyed frogs over a five-year period that included the 2010-2012 La Niña event. The research, titled “Too wet for frogs: changes in a tropical leaf litter community coincide with La Niña,” was published today [13 January 2015] inEcosphere, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.
The role of extreme rainfall associated with a La Niña event is not well-known for amphibians in tropical areas, but one wouldn’t expect abundant rainfall to harm populations of moisture-loving organisms like amphibians. Leaf litter frogs live in a humid and moist environment comprised of dead leaves and other forest debris that falls to the ground. The onset of the 2010-12 La Niña provided a natural experiment with which to address the effects of excess rainfall on this community. Ryan and colleagues documented extreme changes in leaf-litter frog populations that coincided with the La Nina event.