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Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group

Neotropical Platypodinae biodiversity

Lawrence Kirkendall

Neotropical Platypodinae biodiversity

Platypodinae, a subfamily of weevils known as “pinhole borers”, are monogamous ambrosia beetles which farm fungi in tunnel systems in dead wood. The biology, ecology, and taxonomy of Platypodinae are poorly known. Can species readily adapt to the conditions at different elevations? Will platypodines be able to rapidly adapt to climate change?

The ALAS project in Costa Rica has been studying arthropod biodiversity in a typical tropical forest for over a decade, including intensive collecting of the bark beetles and pinhole borers. From my participation in that project and working with museum collections, I now have many specimens and much recorded data. The collections come from various localities in Central America including an elevational gradient study in Costa Rica which spanned from sea level to 2000 m.

Little is known of the ecological patterns in this important group of forest insects, and no keys or identification aids exist for Central America.

This MSc project would supplement existing data by assembling and identifying new material, and then investigate biogeographic patterns using modern analytical methods. After receiving taxonomic training in Bergen, the student should work for a few weeks in major European museums (Vienna, London, Paris), studying material, taking photographs, and arranging to borrow specimens. The student will study this material, collate data from the specimens, and borrow specimens which cannot be identified with certainty there. In addition, Central American material will be borrowed from a variety of museums and individuals.

This work will contribute significantly to our understanding of Platypodinae ecology and biogeography, and generally to the documentation of arthropod biodiversity of Costa Rica.

 

Neotropisk Platypodinae biodiversitet