Colorado Plateau Museum for
Arthropod Biodiversity (CPMAB) staff members participate in research activities
that range from developing a state-of-the-art virtual collection network and
examining the potential effects of climate change on arthropod communities to
collecting and inventorying arthropod species. Working in partnership with
other institutions such as federal land management agencies is a hallmark of many
of the CPMAB’s research efforts. A selection of current research projects is
listed below:Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN)
Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network, or SCAN, brings together resources
from 10 regional arthropod collections located throughout the Southwest to
create a virtual online library of ground-dwelling arthropods. SCAN will develop a dynamically
structured, state-of-the-art digital platform designed to facilitate arthropod
biodiversity and ecology projects in the Southwest. The project focus on ground-dwelling arthropods—ants, selected beetle
families, grasshoppers, spiders—because they are highly responsive to temporal
and spatial environmental changes, taxonomically diverse, and among the most
commonly monitored terrestrial arthropod taxa. SCAN will use the best
museum stewardship practices and leading-edge informatics, drawing on recent
advances in collection cataloging, imaging, networking, remote identification,
and web delivery.
Specifically, SCAN will (1)
assess and develop mechanisms for integrating the different database systems in
operation by the participating institutions; (2) capture label data from more
than 750,000 specimens and image about 15,000 arthropod specimens; (3) develop
and implement new cybertaxonomic practices, based on the Symbiota top-level
software and the Filtered Push semantic model, to significantly increase the
capacity of taxonomic experts to provide remote e-identifications; and (4)
produce a coherent georeferenced dataset and virtual taxonomic identification
library. By allowing researchers from
multiple disciplines to quantify the ecological and evolutionary impacts of
climate and land use on key arthropod groups, SCAN will help facilitate future
taxonomic research on Southwest arthropods and usher in a new era of
specimen-based biogeographic research in the Southwest.
Pipe Springs National Monument Inventory
The CPMAB has partnered the U.S.
Army Engineer Research Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory to
undertake three studies of pollinators that are to be conducted at Fort
Huachuca, a U.S. Army post at Sierra Vista, Arizona. The first study examines the
direct and indirect impacts of Lehmann’s lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana), an invasive bunchgrass, on plants and
pollinators in desert grasslands within the Fort Huachuca post. The second
study explores the pollinator networks of three Erigeron plant species of
conservation concern. Erigeron is genus of flowering plants that are used as
food by the larvae of some pollinators. The third study examines the role of pollinators
as vectors of yeast found in nectar. Fundamental information on plant and
pollinator community structure and pollination dynamics using network theory
will result from the studies. Additionally, an extensive number of flower-visiting
arthropod specimens have been collected as the result of these studies.
Timeline: 2008 –13.
Ground-Dwelling Arthropod in the Canyonlands Region
As part of the Colorado Plateau
All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, an arthropod collection is being created at
Pipe Springs National Monument, a National Park Service (NPS) unit 15 miles
west of Fredonia, Arizona. CPMAB staff and volunteers are working with NPS
staff to collect more than 5,000 arthropod specimens for the collection. The
collection, which will be displayed at Pipe Springs National Monument, will serve
as an important outreach tool as well as provide important occurrence data for
Project Timeline: 2012 –13.
Arthropod Communities along an Elevation Gradient
The CPMAB has undertaken a study
of the distribution of ground-dwelling arthropod species in the Canyonlands
Region, a diverse region in southeastern Utah that encompasses a wide range of
vegetation types. The study was made possible by the creation of the Canyonlands
a research facility focused on long-term ecological research, monitoring, and
assessment of the Canyonlands Region. This biogeographic survey complements
other CPMAB pitfall studies and will provide critical information on the
occurrence of hundreds of species across habitats ranging from desert flats to
aspen-mixed conifer forests.
Project Timeline: 2010 –14.
initiated two studies, one that focused on insect pollinators and the other on
ground-dwelling arthropods, to determine the degree to which community
composition changes across space (elevation) and time (seasonal and annual).
Both studies made use of five study plots along a 3,200-meter elevation
gradient that lies north of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountains in
Arizona. Established by NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research
in 2002, the five plots are outfitted with weather stations to collect
temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and other data. The plots
encompass five vegetation communities that range from desert-shrub to
mixed-conifer forest. To date, more than
160 bee species and more than 350 ground-dwelling arthropod species have been
documented as a result of these two studies.
Project Timeline: 2010 –15.