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THE bug meeting – International Heteropterists’ Society Meeting

Postdoctoral researcher Guanyang Zhang attended the 5th Quadrennial Meeting of the Heteropterists’ Society. The meeting took place at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History from July 21 to 25, 2014. Meeting program can be found here. The meeting was attended by more than 100 participants from several continents. There were about 50 talks and more than 20 posters. Topics centered around taxonomy and phylogenetics, but also included behavior, evolution and ecology. Click this link to see some meeting pictures and tweets: IHS meeting pictures and tweets.

Zhang & Franz 2014 – Integrating and Visualizing Taxonomic Concept Changes in the Heteroptera from taxonbytes

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Overview of Euler/X toolkit commands

An overview of Euler/X toolkit commands, with examples of how and when to use. This post expands on the Euler/X introduction and demonstration video which show a linear pathway to producing a logically consistent multi-taxonomy alignment. Post in development.

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Global Names Interface for Taxonomic Editing

GNITE – the Global Names Interface for Taxonomic Editing – embodies a number of neat design features that can be appropriated for a service that is perhaps still missing from the biodiversity informatics realm, i.e. an application that engages users to import and reconcile taxonomically related (yet partially incongruent) classifications and phylogenies. While GNITE – developed by David Shorthouse and Dmitry Mozzherin while at MBL (with David Patterson as Principal Investigator of the Global Names – North America team) – is presently at a working prototype stage, it is worth looking at the design in more detail. The GUI is pleasant and effective, having benefited from design work by thoughbot. The GNITE codebase is available on GitHub.

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Smithsonian, synonyms, and specimens

Eleodes compositus Casey 1891, Holotype

Eleodes compositus Casey 1891, Holotype

This week has been the most productive of my summer so far. While it is wonderful and necessary to spend time in the field, the same amount of time spent in a collection allows you to benefit from the generations of workers who came before you. This week I have been imaging the type specimens of Eleodes Eschscholtz held at the USNM (Smithsonian Natural History Museum) insect collection.

The value and importance of natural history collections cannot be overstated. Even specimens which some would assume have very little value often turn out to be quite important to future work. One such instance is the story of Eleodes compositus Casey 1891, pictured above.

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Euler/X toolkit demonstration video – July 2014

I screen-recorded a 7:35 minute video demonstrating the current (July 2014), basic functionality of the Euler/X toolkit for aligning multiple taxonomies (see: Concept Taxonomy). The video is up on Vimeo.

Euler/X toolkit demonstration – July 2014 from taxonbytes on Vimeo.

Abstract. The Euler/X toolkit ( takes in two input taxonomies, a set of concept-to-concept articulations, and additional logic constraints to assess their logical consistency, infer the set of maximally informative relationships among the input concepts, and visualize a merge taxonomy. The basic functionality of the toolkit is shown based on a use case of aligning two alternative concept phylogenies of the weevil genus Perelleschus sec. 2001/2013. More information is available at

Alameda inaugural outreach event – July 2014

In how many different ways can we consume guava fruits (genus Psidium, Myrtaceae)? On July 11, 2014, our collections group offered the first (“inaugural”) outreach event at the Alameda location, with participation from all collections. We were visited by elementary-grade students and teachers from a local Montessori school. Some photos of the event are posted here.

Thanks to Melody, Sangmi, Charlotte, Kathleen, Les, Liz, and Walt for leading the event.

#WednesdaysWeeklyWeevil (2) – Lissoderes cecropiae

Lissoderes cecropiae


Lissoderes cecropiae, female in lateral view.

Link to SCAN occurrence record.

Natural History. As the species name suggests, this weevil utilizes cecropia trees (Cecropia Löfling; Urticaceae) as its host plant. Lissoderes adults can be easily found on the underside of cecropia leaves throughout the Neotropics, along with the members of conoderine genus Pseudolechriops and some species of Eulechriops and Lechriops, among other weevils. Lissoderes cecropiae is found at mid elevations (~ 1,000-1,600 m) on the tree Cecropia angustifolia. Larvae are endophytic in the internodes, feeding on the parenchyma tissue while moving around on their dorsum. However, the specific oviposition site on the host plant, mating behavior, and adult feeding behavior for this species remain unknown. Read more

Around Guatemala in 15 days

What occurs to you when you hear the name Guatemala? Thirty-odd years of ‘civil war‘? The land of the Maya civilization? The famous Spanish colonial city Antigua? Or perhaps the 37 volcanoes for those who are geology-oriented? For we entomologists, it is beetles and bugs! But we have seen more than that during our recent field trip to the beautiful land of Guatemala. We drove across the country and collected in nine departmentos (states) in about 15 days (Fig. 1). This is a brief account of the trip.

Collecting localities in a 2014 Guatemala field trip.

Figure 1. Collecting localities in Guatemala. Click to open in Google Map.

The unique and complex geological history and biogeographic constituents of Guatemala have attracted us to make it our destination. We wanted to collect specimens of weevils in the Exophthalmus genus complex. We were hoping to find species that may have an affinity to Caribbean lineages. Because it was possibly historically connect to part of the land masses in the Caribbean, Guatemala seems the right place for finding our weevils.

The trip was joined by ASU Franz Lab Postdoc Guanyang Zhang, Graduate Student Andrew Jansen, and Manuel Barrios, a guatemalteco (Guatemalan), who is a student of molytine leaf litter weevils and currently pursuing a PhD degree at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

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