Friday, May 14, 2010

Short Lab enters Web 2.0 (finally)

I am very excited to unveil a pair of new lab websites that went live yesterday. The first, at, is a new lab homepage and replaces our old one I kept at This page is an entire new build, not just a data migration, and it has LOTS of new features that I will discuss in future posts (not all of them are rolled-out yet).

The second site is a comprehensive data portal for our active Venezuela survey project: It has all the standard, requisite information like lists of collaborators and habitat summaries, but also will be the primary means we share all of our locality data, habitat photos, water quality info, etc. There are still a few kinks to be worked out, but I am giddy with excitement to finally get this thing off the drawing board.

I hope you will find these new sites useful.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring visitor

Ruben Cordero, who recently finished his masters at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, has been visiting for the past couple weeks. Ruben has been helping to sort Dytiscids, his group of interest, in the general collection and for the Venezuela project. Welcome Ruben!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rock Pools

Here is a new species of Berosus from Venezuela that will appear in a forthcoming paper. It has a very specific habitat: it lives in "pothole" pools in the large granite outcrops in the Guiana Shield region. Despite our sampling efforts, this species has only been found in these pools, where it can be fairly common--but nowhere else...not even in nearby forest pools or ditches! Another example of the high habitat specificity in the region.

Monday, April 19, 2010

UAE Hydrophilids

Ever want to identify your water scavenger beetles from the United Arab Emirates, but frustrated by lack of a good key? No more! See the latest volume of the "Arthropods of the UAE" for the complete reference.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And then there was molecular data...

Our molecular lab is finally set up, tested, and getting kicked into high gear! We had our first successful extractions and PCRs about two weeks ago and are about ready to launch into a fast and furious phase of data generation. Right now we're running a screen of 7 genes through a test set of 13 hydrophiloid taxa before settling on a final gene set for our next set of projects. Now we're doing "real" science (kidding!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Giant Water Scavengers

After unnecessary dawdling, my work on the Hydrophilina was finally published this month in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity. In addition to the first phylogeny for the group, a very curious new genus is described from Venezuela:

Short, A.E.Z. 2010. Phylogeny, evolution and classification of the giant water scavenger beetles (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae: Hydrophilini: Hydrophilina). Systematics & Biodiversity, 8(1), 17-37.

Abstract. The hydrophiline subtribe Hydrophilina is composed of nearly 200 described species, including all known water scavenger beetles over 15 mm in length. Found in all biogeographic regions, the lineage is the most recognizable group in the family due to its large size and presence of a sternal keel. A phylogenetic analysis of Hydrophilina based on 80 adult morphological characters supports the reciprocal monophyly of most genera, including Tropisternus Solier, Sternolophus Solier, Hydrophilus Geoffroy, and Hydrobiomorpha (s. str.) Blackburn. The monophyly of Hydrochara Berthold was not resolved. The subgenus Brownephilus Mouchamps of the genus Hydrobiomorpha is elevated to generic rank and suggested to subtend (Hydrophilus+ Hydrobiomorpha (s. str.)). A newly discovered taxon from Venezuela, Protistolophus spangleri gen. et sp. nov., is described and resolved as the earliest diverging lineage of the Hydrophilina. A revised generic classification of the Hydrophilina is proposed, including a key and revised diagnoses for each genus. The evolution of giantism and complex secondary sexual characters are discussed in the context of the newly developed phylogenetic hypothesis.