A busy day at the Entomological Society of America in National Harbor, Maryland. Important thesis research being presented!
Marschalek Lab for Insect Conservation
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My entomological research identifies and alleviates threats to endangered species and quantifies how
My entomological research identifies and alleviates threats to endangered species and quantifies how stressors impact ecosystem functioning.
It's that time of year again! Regal fritillaries are out 1-2 weeks earlier than the last few years. Hermes copper just started flying but unusually cool weather is making surveying more challenging.
We are hoping to determine how management of grasslands is impacting regal fritillaries and interested to see how a VERY wet winter will influence Hermes numbers.
Fireflies just started flashing in the Warrensburg area about two weeks ago. My graduate student, Mikey, is starting to document the diversity of fireflies in the state of Missouri and would love your help. If anyone is willing to volunteer a few minutes and dollars, we would love for you to send us a few fireflies. Instructions:
We are interested in the conservation of these beetles so please only collect a few of each variety you encounter. Most will need an actual specimen for identification to the species level. If you have fireflies that look different or flash different, we would like a few of each!
Proud to announce that Abby recently earned UCM's 2023 Outstanding Graduate Student Award for her graduate studies and research on the Harbison's dun skipper. As the university winner, she had the opportunity to present her research during the awards ceremony.
Just published... interesting results from a student project. With a bit of problem-solving with the setup, Madison determined that capture rates can be improved by using certain colors of light bulbs.
Flatland, Kansas City PBS' digital magazine, just released a short video on the lab's recent butterfly research:
Butterfly Effect: Dan Marschalek is More Than a Collector Dan Marschalek’s fascination with butterflies began innocently enough. Then he learned the crucial role butterflies play as pollinators in sustaining life as we know it.
On campus today with Missouri Department of Conservation to get some of their bee specimens pinned.
Hermes copper is flying (thanks to Korey Klutz for the photo)! Hopefully they start spreading out to new areas... too many eggs in too few baskets...
Good initial news from the Harbison's dun skipper project this summer. On the first day of surveys, 5 skippers were observed at a single site. This may not appear impressive at face value, but it is average compared to historic data and more individuals than were seen at any site last year. Good job Abby!
The nocturnal American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) is native to North America. It can detect its carrion prey from far away. The carcasses of small mammals and birds will attract males and females, and a pair will dig out the soil until the carcass is buried. They mate and the female lays eggs nearby, and then both male and female work to feed their young from the decaying carcass. Delicious.
The beetle was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1989, but was recently reclassified as Threatened; their populations remain low, likely due to habitat loss and disruption. This particular specimen was collected in Illinois around 1875.
You can see the American burying beetle and other insects in the exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Caught up on some old business, publishing a project conducted in San Diego a few years ago. Beetles associated with carrion decomposition do not like urban areas! Now on to the pollinators...
With wildfires and drought, conservation of this species has been challenging! Winter precipitation is going to be key for the long-term persistence of the Hermes copper and there hasn't been much of that lately.
An extra long regal fritillary season this year so thank you for everyone who helped! We were able to:
1) Survey for regal fritillaries to determine relative population sizes and densities in several prairies.
2) Collect habitat data in areas with high and low densities of fritillaries.
3) Mark and track female fritillaries, which resulted in the detection of dispersal among remnant prairies.
4) Collect non-lethal genetic samples for USFWS to be used in a population/landscape genetics study.
Time to analyze data...
The lab just returned from Denver after giving presentations at this year's Entomological Society of America meetings. Both Mike and Abby did a great job!
The zoo is racing to save some of San Diego’s rarest butterflies before they vanish The Laguna Mountains skipper hasn’t been seen on the eponymous mountain range in more than 20 years. A coalition of conservationists is trying to change that
We are seeing a good number of regal fritillaries in Missouri! I am starting to address management questions with my research by comparing regal fritillary numbers to vegetation characteristics. I will also be helping USFWS by collecting non-lethal genetic samples (one leg) for their study.
Starting a two-year study on the Harbison's dun skipper with incoming graduate student Abby Lyons. Relative population sizes of each known population will be assessed in 2021 . In 2022, a marking study will be conducted to better understand absolute population sizes and movement patters, along with an assessment of habit characteristics. Still searching for the first Harbison's dun skipper adult this season.
The 2021 field crew is starting to see Hermes copper adults flying this year. We are updating the current distribution by surveying about 25 sites in San Diego County with the hopes that numbers recover following years of drought. In coordination with US Fish & Wildlife Service, CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, and other conservation groups, we hope to translocate eggs to reestablish a historic population. Currently, all known populations are in a very small region and one large fire could wipe out the species. Establishing additional populations spread out across the landscape will reduce the extinction risk posed by fires. Unfortunately, based earlier 2021 butterfly observations, it is unlikely that populations will be robust enough to support the translocation efforts this year.
Field work in Missouri has also started this summer. Regal fritillary butterflies are out this year. Teaming up with Missouri Department of Conservation to compare mark-recapture population size estimates (UCM's role) to distance sampling estimates (MDC's role). This is the first male to be captured and marked in 2020.
Hermes copper surveys started in San Diego last week and already with some success. Here is bright orange male that recently emerged (photo from Andrew Borcher). Just a few butterflies seen so far, but they are just getting started.
Evelyn presenting an insect decomposer project at Missouri Natural Resources Conference. We were able to discuss our shared interests in burying beetles with the St. Louis Zoo (they are involved with the American burying beetle recovery efforts).
This fall we started tagging monarch butterflies on the UCM campus with the hope that some will be resighted in Mexico this winter.
Just started a marking study of the regal fritillary butterfly here in Missouri. While this butterfly appears to be declining throughout most of its range, populations in western MO and eastern KS seem to be holding their own.
Patience pays off for the 2019 field crew. Finally found our first Hermes copper adults of the year. Late due to the cool spring. Surprisingly, it appears males and females emerged at the same time. Two pairs seen mating today.
Emily presenting a pollinator study at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference.
Hannah presenting a blister beetle marking study at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference.
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Teacher, wife, mother of three, and candidate for Warrensburg R6 school district school board. (offi