Monday, June 3, 2013

BugGuide Gathering 2013 in Arizona

This year the insect enthusiasts and members of the BugGuide community will hold their annual get together at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) in Arizona on July 25 to 28, 2013.

View into Florida Canyon from the SRER
The SRER is located in Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, in the heart of SE Arizona, one of the most arthropod-species rich areas of the United States. Located in the juniper-oak belt of this sky island the station provides easy access Florida, Madera and Montosa Canyon and to habitats ranging from dry grasslands to high elevation mixed conifer stands. SRER not only provides us wirh affordable bunk style housing, but also with great meeting facilities and electricity and space for black lighting. The station is part of the experimental range of the University of Arizona.

Caterpillars from a night hike at the SRER
 U of A Professor Wendy Moore, curator of the Insect Collection of the University of Arizona (UAIC), functions as our official host who made the use of the station possible.

Since it was conceived in 2005 by Troy Bartlett, Mike Boone, and Pat Coin, BugGuide has developed from an on-line identification help into a citizen science project par excellence. It is now hosted by John K. VanDyk at Iowa State University. Daily thousands of contributions come in from all over the US and Canada, a devoted team of volunteer experts works tirelessly on identifications, and the collected data are easily accessable for lay people and experts alike. I know a number of scientists who value BugGuide as a source of first hand distribution information, links to collectors, and identified on-line images that can be licensed from the individual photographers.

 Wendy Moore at the U of A (a land grant university) has been promoting the local insect collection (UAIC) as a museum for the public and has made many efforts to further public interest in insects, their ecology, and their natural history. She has been instrumental in the creation of the very popular Arizona Insect Festival and is actively supporting many citizen science projects like for example the BioBlitz in the local Saguaro National Park and the online Encyclopedia of Life. So when the BugGuide community needed a sponsor in the U of A faculty to be able to use the SRER, Wendy was the obvious person to turn to and she graciously agreed.  

 The BugGuide Gathering 2013 in Arizona will be an opportunity for established BugGguide members to finally meet each other or see each other again in an environment full of opportunity to find bugs, hike, black light, get sun burned, and mostly to enjoy each others company. With Troy Barlett and Patrick Coin we will have two of the founding members of BugGuide at the meeting!
But we also hope that many newer BugGuide members can take the opportunity to get into the field with a lot of the experts who have been identifying so many of their entries over the years. We will let them in on the secrets of finding our favorite bugs in desert and mountains and let them watch how we get puzzeled by new unexpected finds. It should be great fun! BugGuide members, please sign up by going to the BG home page, column on the left, Gathering in AZ 2013, then click on 'My Account' to input your info and choices, which will appear under 'Who is coming' (make sure you are logged into your account). 

Eric Eaton, Robyn Waayers, Art Evans, and I - all looking forward to the BugGuide meeting at the SRER in July
This is also a chance for local bug enthusiasts and entomologists to take part in the trips we will be organizing and to meet some interesting people. We don't have a fixed program yet but on Thursday afternoon both Art Evans (Author of 'An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles and several other insect books) and Eric Eaton (Author of  Kaufman's Insect Guide for North America) will be at the SRER where we will set up several black lights and mercury vapor lights to attract beetles, moths and more.
Charles O'Brien, our world renown weevil expert, his wife Lois, equally accomplished fulgorid scholar, will also join us at the meeting.   Chip A. Hedgecock a great nature photographer and connoisseur of the local insect fauna will set up his photo studio and allow us to watch his technique. Warren Savary will also demonstrate his new photo equipment and  help with our questions about scorpions. Fred Skillman will add his expertise about cerambycids and Pat Sullivan will help with scarabs, bombylids, and his general knowledge of the area. 

Oh, and the gathering is also registered as a  National Moth Week event!

I hope to see many of you in July

Margarethe Brummermann
reluctant organizer but excited participant of the BugGuide gathering 2013

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