2016. Phylogeny of Chalcidoidea
2015. National Geographic Society
2014. Identification of egg parasitoids of the leafhopper Dalbulus quinquenotatus, ancestor of Dalbulus maidis, an economically important maize insect pest in Mexico
2014. Evolutionary Arms Race in Trilobites: leveraging millions of years of evolution to develop advanced materials for national security and human welfare
2013. Vouchering specimens of egg parasitoids of the glassy-winged sharpshooter by the CDFA Pierce's Disease Biological Control Program in Texas and Texas A&M in Texas
2011. Testing Himalayan tectonic and erosional history via chronostratigraphic correlation between the Lesser Himalaya and Indian craton
2010. Collaborative Databasing of North American Bee Collections Within a Global Informatics Network
2008. Remediation and curation of the University of California, Riverside collection of Aphelinidae (other than Aphytis) and Encyrtidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea)
2006. Identify the Species of Mymaridae Reared in Argentina and Mexico for Potential Introduction to California against Glassy-winged Sharpshooter and Prepare and Submit for Publication a Pictorial, Annotated Key to the ater-group species of Gonatocerus - Egg Parasitoids of the Proconiine Sharpshooters (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Proconiini) in the Neotropical Region
Litter Bugs:revisionary and phylogenetic research on the least studied true bug infraorder (Insecta: Hemiptera: Dipsocoromorpha). Weirauch (DEB-1257702). $438,000. 07/01/2013- 06/30/2016
This project focuses on assembling the largest worldwide collection of Dipsocoromorpha (target: 15,000 specimens), mostly curated from unsorted residue samples at natural history collections, revisionary taxonomic projects, and testing the current classification of Dipsocoromorpha as well as hypotheses on wing and genital evolution. To date (summer 2015), 19,321 specimens have been retrieved from residues and 5,045 point mounted specimens sorted during museum visits; >6,200 are databased; >550 imaged; and 282 DNA-extracted. The team has presented 10 talks at scientific meetings. Two papers are published, 1 book chapter and 1 manuscript accepted, 2 manuscripts in review, and 2 manuscripts close to submission. Taxonomic revisions have so far focused on Peloridinannus (6 new spp.), Orthorhagus (5 new spp.), and Chinannus (26 new spp.) and a manuscript on the phylogeny of Schizoptera and related genera is close to submission. Phylogenetic results provide evidence for the monophyly of Dipsocoromorpha and the paraphyly of Schizopteridae. An analysis of anchored hybrid enrichment (AHE) next-generation sequencing (NGS) data for 8 taxa (will be combined with ribosomal and mitochondrial data for other taxa) provides evidence for resolving contentious relationships at the family level. Two graduate students (Knyshov, Leon) and 3 undergraduate students (Frankenberg, Logan, Romero) have conducted research. The 2014 REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) project is published (Weirauch & Frankenberg, in press). Both graduate students have been involved in field and museum work. The Heteroptera Species Pages show specimen information and images (http://research.amnh.org/pbi/heteropteraspeciespage). The Dipsocoromorpha workshop allowed 12 team members to discuss systematics of Dipsocoromorpha.
Overcoming the nematode taxonomic impediment through integration of novel tools for species discovery and phylogeny: Cephaloboidea as a case-study: coPIs; Nadler (UCD) and Baldwin (UCR) (DEB 1257331 ) 2013-2016.
This project develops new DNA/microscopy technology to implement novel, efficient, cost-saving approaches to nematode species discovery and description, including evolutionary and ecological relationships. The California desert (specifically the Philip L. Boyd Deep Canyon Reserve Research Center) is the experimental site for developing these tools, but the application/benefits are global. Beyond species discovery, the project addresses another serious shortcoming of traditional nematode taxonomy: the difficulty of rapid species identification or identification at any level (even genus) for non-experts. We propose to overcome this impediment by using the detailed species inventory of Cephaloboidea at DCR as the basis for application of next-generation sequencing for species identification. Challenges of minute nematode structure are addressed with novel, relatively simpler morphological approaches for broad application. A final objective is to refine the existing molecular phylogeny for Cephaloboidea, based on global collections. A component of the grant outreach program involves recruiting undergraduate students at Spelman College, Atlanta, Ga., through the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). In addition, new instructional tools and training approaches involving soils will be developed for grades 5-12.
Collaborative Research: Plants, Herbivores, and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-Trophic Associations: Weirauch and Heraty (DEB- 1115144)
(http://tcn.amnh.org) Specimen data in the nation's natural history museums are essential resources for understanding biological diversity, including many species of strategic importance to agriculture and national security. This Thematic Collections Network (TCN) project integrates specimen information and photographs from 14 botanical and 18 entomological collections across the United States, focusing on Hemiptera (scale insects, aphids, leafhoppers, true bugs, and relatives), a group of insects containing many species of great economic importance in the United States. Data captured will dramatically improve our understanding of the relationships among the more than 11,000 species of North American Hemiptera, their food plants, and the wasps that parasitize the hemipterans. This TCN will utilize innovative technologies, including Web-accessible databases and high-resolution digital imaging, in order to capture and broadly disseminate via the Internet data for more than 1.6 million hemipteran, 200,000 parasitoid, and 6 million plant specimens. The specimen information captured by this Thematic Collections Network (TCN) project will be relevant for studies in agricultural sciences, climate change, invasive species, biological classification, conservation, and ecosystems.
Inventory of soil nematodes for local support of agriculture and monitoring ecological change in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico: PI Baldwin and Mundo (UCR) 2010-2011.
This project focused on biodiversity of nematodes in the ecologically unique and diverse state of Sinaloa, Mexico which has been under increasing pressure from rapid development including expanding subsistence and large-scale commercial agriculture production. In this context, an understanding of soil nematode diversity, including both plant parasites and nonparasitic bioindicators, is crucial both to successful agriculture and to monitoring ecological change. A key goal to addressing this challenge is a strategic inventory with database and reference collection of nematode diversity in the region. Products included preserved voucher specimens as the beginning of a regional reference collection at CIIDIR and with duplicates deposited in the UCR Nematode Collection. The work provided materials integrated into monographic and phylogenetic studies relevant to subsequent NSF projects. The project also contributed support to a 2011 workshop, including many CIIDIR and international participants at UCR in identification of soil nematodes.
Taxonomic Expertise in True Bugs: Systematic and Monographic Research on Assassin Bugs (Heteroptera: Reduviidae): Weirauch (DEB-0933853). 2009-2015.
This project focuses on advancing systematics of the Reduviidae, the second largest family of Heteroptera. Taxonomic revisions for natural enemies (e.g., Apiomerus, Zelus) and groups of charismatic prey specialists (millipede- and termite-feeding assassin bugs) are being complemented with phylogenetic analyses investigating relationships including those of medically important Triatominae. The project has tackled revisionary taxonomic challenges, generated the most comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of Reduviidae to date, and produced the first phylogeny of the most speciose assassin bug tribe Harpactorini providing insights into the evolution of a novel predation strategy associated with accelerated evolution of leg morphology. Four PhD graduate students, 2 MSc students, and >16 undergraduate students have been or are currently being trained at UCR. As part of the project, >33,000 specimens have so far been databased and 2,171 imaged (1,635 types). Specimen records are public (http://www.discoverlife.org and the “Heteroptera Species Pages” (http://research.amnh.org/pbi/heteropteraspeciespage). The PI and/or trainees have so far conducted more than 23 weeks of field work in the US, Asia, Africa, and Central and South America and spent 22 weeks in 7 national and international natural history collections.
Training the next generation of nematode taxonomists: applying the tools of monography across free-living and parasitic Tylenchina: coPIs; Nadler (UCD) and Baldwin & DeLey (UCR) Subbotin (CDFA) (DEB 0731516 ) 2007-2013.
The primary objective is to address weaknesses in nematode taxonomy and the paucity of specialists by leveraging complementary strengths of the Departments of Nematology at UCR and UCD, including two major taxonomic collections, to provide professional training in morphological and molecular nematode systematics. Building upon our previous PEET successes the goal is a much-needed monograph of suborder Tylenchina that includes a range of morphologically disparate free-living microbivores as well as plant and animal parasitic taxa. The project is supported by a worldwide network of collaborators including recently retired expertise assisting with knowledge and access to collections and live specimens as well as museum collections (including undescribed species). Morphological training including SEM, and TEM is coordinated primarily through UCR; molecular training, including DNA/RNA isolation, PCR amplification, and sequencing is primarily at UCD. The broader impact is through strengthening access for the international community of scientists to nematode-relevant teaching tools, and value-added products such as authoritatively identified cultures, diagnostic identification aids (morphological and molecular) and phylogenies supporting a wide array of broader advances in basic biology, ecology, evolution, agriculture, parasitology, and medicine.