Graduate Students in the TAMU Department of Entomology recognize that irresistible pressure for specialization is continually pushing entomologists farther apart. Field crop specialists, biocontrolers, systematists, ecologists, physiologists, forestry entomologists and molecular biologists tend to drift apart even though we all study insects in the same department. The ENTOBLITZ concept was created to push the department back in the direction of unity. Where do we overlap? The insects in the field…Let’s go collecting!
ENTOBLITZ is designed as a remedy. It will partially fill the deficiencies arising from over-specialization. It will help fill gaps in our knowledge of Texas’ entofauna because it will be directed at areas of the state and habitats that are under represented in our research collections. It will provide specimens to replace worn teaching collection material. It will funnel specimens into the departmental outreach program. It will foster community within the wide empire of the Department of Entomology. It will do all this in the form of a three day blitz style assault on the entofauna of specifically targeted regions/habitats.
To expose students to a diversity of arthropod communities, natural ecosystems and field techniques in Texas.
- Graduate students will organize field seminars as collecting trips to various regions.
- Students will collect, curate and organize specimens that will go into the teaching collection, outreach collection and research collections of the department.
- Field seminars will be presented by experts so that students may learn diverse field techniques.
- ENTOBLITZ participants will discuss various aspects of climate, topography, vegetation and how these affect arthropod communities.
Collectively graduate students in the Department of Entomology are extremely diverse in their research interests and backgrounds. Through the course of a typical graduate program most students become highly focused experts on a small group of insects in a targeted habitat type or on some detailed aspect of an organism’s biology through laboratory studies. It is necessary to purposefully broaden the experience of students with increased opportunities to expand their experience. Field trips provide a form of didactic education that surpasses the classroom lecture. Field seminars will provide students with direct access to experts in the department on the level of peers in a fun, hands-on and informative way.
Faculty & Staff:
- Dr. Jimmy Olson, mosquito sampling
- Dr. John Oswald, Neuroptera; collecting insect at night with lights
- Dr. Joseph Schaffner, sweeping and beating for mirids
- Dr. Robert Wharton, parasitic Hymenoptera (Braconidae) and Diptera
- Edward G. Riley, leaf litter collecting and pitfall traping
- Matt Yoder, yellow pan traps
- Will Godwin, flight intercept trap variations and habitat variation based on soil type
- Matt Buffington, techniques for sweeping micro-Hymenoptera
- Ron Weeks, ant collecting
The ENTOBLITZ itinerary was designed so that participants would encounter three very different habitat types within the upper Sabine basin of Northeast Texas. We encountered upland Carpinus/Ostrya forest, Some of the finest bottomland hardwood forest left in the state and strange sandy uplands of the Sparta Sand formation. To understand the differences in our three localities it is necessary to know a little bit about geology of the area. Here Eocene sediments lie in roughly NE/SW bands. The layers alternate between sandy formations and clay formations. Sandy formations form high dry ridges while the clay formations form broad valleys. Add to this the Sabine River and its major tributary Lake Fork Creek. The Sabine flows crosswise against the orientation of the geology. It encounters broad floodplains that roughly correspond to the clay formations and that pinch-off as it crosses more resistant sandy formations (a perfect arrangement for big reservoirs). On a broader scale we were at the very edge of the eastern deciduous forest. The habitats that we encountered all meet their western limits here or within 30 miles to the West. Many of the plant formations here are reminiscent of the Ozarks. Several participants remarked how they were reminded of localities in Illinois. Not enough collecting has been done in this extreme Northeast corner of Texas and we would expect to find numerous new state records for eastern taxa.