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Sal Anzaldo featured in the STRI Newsletter

This month’s STRI Newsletter has a short feature article called “Why Weevils?” (in English and in Spanish) on Sal Anzaldo’s research on conoderine weevils in Panama. The link to the PDF with the article (page 6) is here.


Sal Anzaldo – Why Weevils?

Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 in Review

Here is a summary listing of all taxonbytes blog posts related to the Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 trip. The collected Flickr images are here. Plans are underway for another installment in 2015.

Also read New study abroad program draws ASU undergrads to Panama, written by Sandy Leander for the ASU News.

Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 17 to 19 (End)

I am reporting on the final three days for the Tropical Field Biology – Panama 2014 trip. On Wednesday (Day 17), about half of the group had an opportunity to visit an Embera Village. This included an exciting canoe river trip to the village and learning about body paint, dance, and other cultural practices. About 5% of the Panamanian people are indigenous and live on “comarcas” with special political status. Another group went to the Altos de Campana National Park to explore its beautiful cloud forest habitats, serenity, and significantly cooler climate.

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#WednesdaysWeeklyWeevil (1) – Systenotelus carludovicae

You knew it was coming – a new, weevil-centric natural history and taxonomy series: Wednesday’s Weekly Weevil. Twitter hashtag: #WednesdaysWeeklyWeevilAuthors will rotate. Systenotelus carludovicae is starting off the series.

Systenotelus carludovicae


Systenotelus carludovicae, male in lateral view.

Link to SCAN occurrence record

Natural history. Systenotelus carludovicae, the “Panama Hat Palm Seed Weevil” (hereby named), is a highly specialized, seed feeding weevil that occurs only on select species of Panama Hat Palms (genus Carludovica; Cyclanthaceae) in Costa Rica and Panama. These weevils are significantly larger than close relatives, and the females in particular are tapered at both ends (rostrum and abdomen). This feature allows them to lay eggs into small inter-floral entrances “from the outside”. The larvae feed on multiple seeds. As a result, this species is fairly detrimental to its host – it is not a pollinator and further reduces the plant’s reproductive success by destroying fertilized seeds. There is an interesting morphological “arms race” among several species of Carludovica and Systenotelus, documented in detail in Franz (2004). The weevil species are successively longer and narrower, whereas the plant species have increasingly better protected female flowers. One might argue that Systenotelus “caused” the diversification of Carludovica species in southern Central America.

Other comments & fun facts. Systenotelus is Greek for “tapered at both ends” – a very fitting and beautiful name. The female flowers of the host plant species Carludovica sulcata are apparently so well protected against oviposition and seed feeding by Systenotelus weevils (who are not visitors of this species) that they are also hard to access for more beneficial, pollinating species of acalyptine weevils. A short video of a related species is posted here.

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Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 14 to 16

Likely the penultimate Panama Field Biology 2014 blog post, with updates from Days 14 to 16. Sunday morning (Day 14) was spent in part to recover from the physical strains of BCI as well as Saturday night’s Gamboa social happenings (read: Coffeehouse and/or Gamboa Resort). However our main focus for both Sunday and Monday (Day 15) was to push the individual research projects to the point of (or at least nearing) completion.

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New publication: Symbiota software platform

With lead author Corinna Gries of the University of Wisconsin, two Franz Lab members have a new publication in the Biodiversity Data Journal reviewing the Symbiota software platform. Symbiota has become popular with a broad range of North American collections networks and is gaining support in Central America as well.


  • Gries, C., E.E. Gilbert & N.M. Franz. 2014. Symbiota – a virtual platform for creating voucher-based biodiversity information communities. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1114 (24 Jun 2014). doi: 10.3897/BDJ.2.e1114. Link to Open Access publication.

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Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Barro Colorado Island

A new update from Panama. Friday and Saturday (Days 12 and 13, respectively) were reserved for the long awaited trip to Barro Colorado Island (BCI). The featured image shows our two dedicated teaching assistants – Meghan Duell and Sal Anzaldo – on the balcony of the BCI Visitor’s Center where many famous tropical biologists have stood before.

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Tropical Field Biology – Panama: Days 8 to 10

Another three-day summary update from the field in Gamboa, Panama – days 8 to 10. Days 8 and 9 (June 15-16) were dedicated primarily to advancing our research projects. Reformulating hypotheses, testing methods, collecting observations and data, conducting interim analyses, and deriving new ideas to test based on the previous work.

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