Expedition, January 2007
By Dr. Elizabeth T. Arias & Professor Kipling Will
Elizabeth Arias (Expedition leader, U.C. Berkeley)
Elizabeth, our fearless leader, will be taking the team to our survey sites in the Valdivian forest. She is in charge of the canopy-fogging project, which is how we collect beetles and other insects from treetops that are to high to reach (more about that later!) Elizabeth studies click beetles (family Elateridae), but during this trip she will be hunting beetles of all kinds. She aims to collect more than TEN THOUSAND beetles this year!
John Lawrence (Retired entomologist and world-class beetle specialist, from Gympie, Australia)
John was invited by Elizabeth to join our trip; he is one of the top beetle experts in the world and will be invaluable in identifying the tremendous diversity of beetles we’ll collect. John has always been interested in visiting Chile– this is his first trip, and perhaps his last major overseas expedition. He’ll be looking for all kinds of unusual beetles for the U.S.-based “Beetle Tree of Life” project, but is personally interested in darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae), and lots of obscure families and weird things. One of John’s main research interests is the relationships between the major lineages of Coleoptera.
Bill Shepard (Essig Museum visiting scholar, U.C. Berkeley)
Elizabeth asked me to replace Fred Andrews (another entomologist who could not make it on this trip). This is my third trip to Chile, and my first as part of a large expedition team. As an aquatic entomologist, I’ll be collecting insects from streams, rivers, waterfalls and springs.
The insect population of a stream can show how clean or polluted a stream is– that is, bugs can indicate stream “health.” So, part of my work is to write beetle identification keys that can be used to find out whether a stream or river is healthy and clean or polluted and sick.
On this trip, I’m looking for riffle beetles and their relatives (Elmidae, Dryopidae, and Psephenidae) for DNA studies. I’m also collecting aquatic lacewings and scorpionflies (Neuroptera and Mecoptera) for a chapter in an aquatic insect book that I’m working on.
Ainsley Seago (Graduate student, from U.C. Berkeley)
My job on this expedition is to keep the blog and photos up to date, and to set pitfall traps for ground-dwelling beetles. This is the third time I’ve been to Chile.
For our main biodiversity survey project, I’ll be collecting every beetle I can get my hands on. For my own thesis research, I’m hunting tiny, fungus- (and carrion-) eating beetles in the family Leiodidae. These guys are a very diverse but little-known group of beetles, and I am trying to figure out how their feeding habits have changed over time.
The best part of collecting for me is setting out carrion traps– I buy some squid meat, let it get all gross and rotten, then hang it out in the forest in plastic buckets. Leiodids and other beetles can’t get enough of the stinky carrion, so they fly right to the traps! It saves me lots of time, even though I have to get kind of squiddy-smelling. By the end of last year’s expedition, our whole truck smelled like squid. Totally not my fault.
Gabriela Urrutia (Technological assistant, from Santiago, Chile)
Gabriela’s job is to keep track of our photographs and financial data, and to help update the expedition website. She is currently a high school graduate waiting to hear which college she will get into.
(field assistant; forestry technician) Eric will help us with canopy-fogging and general field collecting. He has studied forestry and has lots of experience working in Chilean temperate forests.
Sergio Ocares (senior assistant)
Sergio, a team member from 2000, will be helping set
traps and running the canopy-fogging operation with
Elizabeth. He has cooperating with Elizabeth since
she started her passion for beetles!
Sergio help also other profesionals that likes insects
from USA, Europe, Japan and Southamerica.
Juan-Jose Pinto (navigator and field assistant)
Juan-Jose will be helping Elizabeth with canopy-fogging, and is a skilled navigator of Chile’s roads. He is studying agronomy and may become an entomologist someday.
Juan-Enrique Barriga and his wife, Isabel,
are great friends of Elizabeth and will be joining us for part of the expedition. They have a big, beautiful house in the countryside south of Santiago, with one of the best private insect collections in South America and lots of guest rooms for our expedition team to stay the night (lucky us!). Juan-Enrique is a very skilled beetle collector and has been of tremendous help to us on this and other expeditions.
Tina Bujis, Agronomist.
She had been working with the Reserva Costera Valdiviana which is a project of the Nature Conservancy. She is worked in pest management in Canada and in Cuba. She has being a great help sorting microhymenoptera, and little flies.