I just returned home from the inaugural, 10 day Coleoptera Course at the South West Research Station in Portal, AZ. We hardly noticed that this was a first - it ran so smoothly.
|The man who organized it all Steven Lingafelter|
|Brittany, Rich and Steve finally at rest|
Steven Lingafelter was the Lead Coordinator and did most of the planning and preparations for the 2019 Coleoptera Course at the Research Station in Portal, Arizona: After he took and enjoyed the long established Moth Course in 2018, he brought the idea for a Beetle Course to the station management and then devoted weeks (months?) of work to the project. It must have been a huge undertaking and it turned out so well!
|Reference literature and synoptic collection of relevant beetle families|
|Images for the Book Arizona Beetles were also available as references|
Every day started with a lecture. Richard Leschen flew in from New Zealand to be the Lead Instructor. He gave a series of very focused lectures on diversity, morphology, classification, and identification of beetles. I am no systematist, but I feel that I learned a great deal. I am grateful that he made the lectures available in print and file. It relieved us from painstaking note-taking and provides a useful base for further study.
Rich was supported by knowledgeable input from Matt Gimmel. Matt also introduced an electronic interactive identification key. Differing from the usual dichotomus keys that are based on a fixed series of character couplets, this key lets the user decide on the approach that seems most accessible. A very interesting tool that I will have to explore further.
|Chris and Brittany collecting leaf litter for a Berlese Funnel|
|Matt Gimmel and Chris Carlton servicing a Flight Intercept Trap|
Guest lectures Wendy Moore (Paussinae, UoA) Gene Hall (Ptiliidae, UoA) and Andrew Johnston (Tenebrionidae ASU) introduced their fields of research.
On the first day, I wrote on the white board a list of the 100 beetle families that we were most likely to find according to Matt's predictions.
|Brittany, Rich Leschen, Matt Gimmel, Andrew Johnston discussing THE LIST|
|THE LIST, nearly complete|
|Class of 2019 at work|
|after lunch at the cafeteria, talking bugs, I'm sure|
|Matt Gimmel sampling Dasytine Melyridae at Barfoot Park|
|Beetles collected at Rustler Park, around 9000 feet elev.|
Flickr album of beetles in situ - from excursions during the course
|Sphaerobothris ulkei on Ephedra sp.|
The south-fork of Cave Creek provided riparian habitat right on the station's property, and frog ponds added the still water component.
The desert habitat along Foothills Road provided very different beetles from those of canyons and forested mountain tops. We black-lighted there in a wash - rain was not in the forecast, otherwise flash floods could have surprised us. The photo above is from last year.
|Coenopoeus palmei and Moneilema appressum|
|Mary Jane with moths|
|Friendly Striped Skunk|
|Wren eating moth (Chris Carlton)|
|Musicians Michele Lanan, Mary Jane Epps, Charles Hart and Rich Leschen|
The students in this first class were nearly all all professionals with a good deal of experience. Most were identifiers or entomology professors. This was a hand-picked group that will hopefully give valuable feed-back after this first run.
The Bee Course at the SWRS, which is the oldest of the courses and a model for the newer ones, is now in it's 35rd year and still has long waiting lists for applicants. So - lets see how our Coleoptera Course is doing in 35 years!