Myrmecos

Archives for February, 2008

Breaking News: The Pheidologeny!

Out today is a preprint version (subscription only) of Corrie Moreau’s Pheidole phylogeny. At first glance this seems a nice piece of work: the evolutionary history of one of the world’s most diverse ant genera inferred from 140 species and 5 genes. This is some extremely cool ant evolution research, and the first salvo from…

New photos on myrmecos.net

Lycus net-winged beetles, Arizona My latest beetle photos are now posted at myrmecos.net.

Friday Beetle Blogging: Laccophilus pictus

Laccophilus pictus – Predaceous Diving Beetle Arizona, USA Here’s one of my favorite Arizona insects. Laccophilus pictus is a small diving beetle, less than a centimeter long, that is common in small ponds and streams in the mountains south of Tucson. It’s also one of the beetles that we’re using as an exemplar taxon for…

New Species: Ectatomma parasiticum

Ectatomma parasiticum Feitosa & Fresneau 2008 Mexico In today’s Zootaxa, Feitosa et al describe a workerless social parasite in the ant genus Ectatomma. Like many discoveries, this one was fortuitous. The authors were collecting nests of the common Ectatomma tuberculatum when they noticed that some nests had a number of rather small queens in them.…

Plazi.org launched

http://plazi.org/ Donat Agosti’s group has launched Plazi, a set of tools that translates flat paper taxonomy into dynamic web content. This technology is significant: it means the content of old literature can be extracted automatically into databases. Taxonomic names are tracked and linked to external information, and collecting locations are linked to maps. This will…

Evolution of Genome Size in Ants

Meet Ectatomma tuberculatum. This tropical insect has the largest genome of 40 species of ants measured in a study by Neil Tsutsui et al in BioMed Central. Weighing in at 690 megabases, E. tuberculatum has nearly twice as much DNA as most other ant species, leading the authors to suggest that a whole genome duplication…

Rod Page looks at the Encyclopedia of Life

For a devastatingly thorough critique, read Rod Page’s first impressions of EoL: The first release was always going to be a disappointment, especially given the hype. What frustrates me, however, is just how far the first release is from what it could have been. The real question is how much the issues I’ve raised are…

The Encyclopedia of Life is Over-Hyped

The imminent release of an embryonic Encyclopedia of Life (EoL) has journalists buzzing about an exciting new online resource. I wish I could share their enthusiasm. EoL has announced 1.7 million species pages within a decade, providing biological information for all of the world’s described species. That’s a lofty goal, but their plan for getting…

Dinoponera on myrmecos.net

I’ve got a new series of Dinoponera photographs up at myrmecos.net. Click on the image above to see the gallery. These giant black insects are the largest South American ants, and although there is at least one Asian Carpenter ant (Camponotus gigas) that’s a bit bigger, Dinoponera weighs in as the world’s largest stinging ant.…

Making the Cover

The smallest insect I’ve ever photographed made the cover of the scientific journal Genetics this week. Encarsia pergandiella, an aphelinid wasp not even a millimeter long, was the subject of a study by Perlmann, Kelly, and Hunter documenting the reproductive consequences of infection by bacterial parasite. The wasp lab is downstairs from ours, so it…