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Award Abstract #1257733

ARTS: Classification and evolution of the ant-parasitic genus Orasema (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae)

Division Of Environmental Biology
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Initial Amendment Date: March 7, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: July 21, 2014
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Award Number: 1257733
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Simon Malcomber
DEB Division Of Environmental Biology
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: March 15, 2013
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End Date: February 28, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $566,000.00
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Investigator(s): John Heraty john.heraty@ucr.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of California-Riverside
Office of Research
RIVERSIDE, CA 92521-1000 (951)827-5535
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Program Reference Code(s): 7375, 9169, EGCH
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Program Element Code(s): 1171


This project will target a taxonomic revision of the genus Orasema, a specialized group of ant parasites. Adult wasps lay their eggs away from the host in plant tissue, and their minute larvae use a variety of specialized behaviors to gain access to the ant nest and attack the ant brood. While common in some habitats, very little is known about these wasps. Using both molecular and morphological tools, this study will describe more than 170 species from North and South America, and provide a robust evolutionary hypothesis of their relationships. Research will focus on developing identification keys, and the study of their oviposition behavior, host associations and host preferences.

Orasema attack some of the most invasive and pestiferous species of ants, including fire ants in the genera Solenopsis and Wasmannia, and the invasive Pheidole megacephala. A mature and sophisticated species-level taxonomy will help to better evaluate the potential of Orasema for use in biological control. Orasema belong to the Chalcidoidea, a megadiverse lineage of mostly parasitic wasps with more than 500,000 estimated species. Taxonomic expertise is desperately needed for this economically important group, and training will focus on novel methods to train new researchers and accelerate the descriptive process.


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Heraty, J.M., Murray, E.. "The life history of Pseudometagea schwarzii, with a discussion of the evolution of endoparasitism and koinobiosis in Eucharitidae and Perilampidae (Chalcidoidea)," Journal of Hymenoptera Research, v.35, 2013, p. 1. 

Heraty, J.. "Orasema: facts and a request," Hamuli, v.4, 2013, p. 15.

Heraty, J., Baker, A., Johnson, J.. "Hidden terrors in the american west.," Hamuli, v.4, 2013, p. 14.

Burks, R.A. and Heraty J.M.. "Subforaminal bridges in Hymenoptera (Insecta), with a focus on Chalcidoidea," Arthropod Structure and Development, v.44, 2015, p. 173. 

Burks, R.A, Mottern, J., Heraty, J.M.. "Revision of the Orasema festiva species group (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Eucharitidae)," Zootaxa, v.3972, 2015, p. 521. 

Burks, R.A. and J.M. Heraty. "Subforaminal bridges in Hymenoptera (Insecta), with a focus on Chalcidoidea," Arthropod Structure and Development, v.44, 2015, p. 521. 


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