University of California-Riverside
Office of Research
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Museums house an untapped wealth of biodiversity in their unsorted shelf collections of samples from around the world. Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, together with an international team of collaborators, will investigate the biodiversity of "Litter Bugs" (true bug infraorder Dipsocoromorpha). These insects are tiny, inhabit cryptic microhabitats, and show highest species diversity in the tropics. Using trap samples already housed in museums combined with some additional fieldwork, the team will build the largest and best-curated collection of Dipsocoromorpha in the world. Integrative taxonomic revisions will reveal the true diversity of selected groups. The phylogeny of this group of insects will be investigated using morphological and molecular approaches, resulting in a new taxonomic classification.
Litter bugs feature remarkable differences among the sexes, including hardened forewings (a trait that is rare outside the beetles), and stunningly complex terminalia. The phylogenetic foundations created during this project will lead to a greater understanding of the evolution of these unique features. Biodiversity information for these insects will become available through publications and cybertaxonomic tools, most importantly an online "Virtual Collection of Dipsocoromorpha". Two graduate students and several undergraduate students will be trained in modern systematic methods and knowledge transfer and collaborations fostered among the community of insect researchers.
PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH
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Spangenberg, R., Friedemann, K., Weirauch, C. and Beutel, R. G.. "The head morphology of the potentially basal heteropteran lineages Enicocephalomorpha and Dipsocoromorpha (Heteroptera, Hemiptera)," Arthropod Systematics & Phylogenetics, v.71, 2013, p. 103.
Weirauch, C. and Stys, P.. "Litter bugs exposed ? phylogenetic relationships of Dipsocoromorpha (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) based on molecular data," Insect Systematics and Evolution, 2014.