Systematics of Neotropical Butterflies at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History

Courses taught at UF


Research in Insect Biodiversity, Fall 2015

Instructors: Keith Willmott, Akito Kawahara

1-2 credits, ENY 4905 (section 23H1)/BSC 2930 (section 23HE). Tuesday, period 8 (3.00-3.50 pm), Steinmetz 1027 (Entomology and Nematology Building). Click here for the syllabus.

Course description
The primary goal of this course is for students to undertake authentic, hands-on primary research on insect biodiversity. Life is the unique feature of our planet, and perhaps the universe, and understanding the origins and diversity of life, or biodiversity, represents one of our greatest challenges. The Earth supports millions of different kinds of organisms, yet only a tiny fraction have even a formal scientific name. Studying where these organisms came from, where and how they live, how they influence our lives, and how we might protect this miraculous diversity from global change, all depends on knowledge of what species exist on Earth and how to identify them - the branch of science known as systematics. Students will gain an understanding of where our knowledge of biodiversity comes from by actively participating in ongoing systematics research. The course will also include lectures by instructors, discussion sessions, and presentations by students. The course will focus on insects, which make up more than half of all species on the planet and provide numerous research opportunities.

Prerequisites
There are no prerequisites beyond a desire to learn about where our knowledge of the diversity of life on Earth comes from.

Topics include:

1. The historical growth of knowledge of species diversity and evolution
2. Taxonomy and species classification
3. Practical uses of taxonomy
4. How many species are there - methods for estimating biodiversity
5. Comparative morphological study
6. Molecular methods
7. Understanding species relationships
8. Species concepts
9. Sampling methods for biodiversity research
10. Museums in biodiversity research
11. Applications of biodiversity data

Insects and Plants, Fall 2015

Instructors: Andrei Sourakov, Keith Willmott, Thomas Emmel

1 credit, IDH3931 (section 1221)/ENY4905 (section 147C). Thursday, period 8 (3.00-3.50 pm), McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity room 217, Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Rd., Powell Hall. Click here for the syllabus.

Course description
Insects and plants are intimately connected and have been so for 300 million years. During this time, the evolutionary arms-race between the two groups has produced examples of co-existence more fantastic than any science-fiction. During this course we will use the textbook to stimulate more in-depth discussions of diverse topics linked to insect-plant interactions, including co-evolution, chemical ecology, predator-prey relationships, mimicry, natural selection, camouflage, host-mediated speciation and adaptive radiation. In addition to lectures and discussion sessions, students will have a chance to visit the collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History and of the Division of Plant Industry, in addition to the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory located behind the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the Chemical Ecology Laboratory of USDA. Students will gain an appreciation and understanding of the evolution of two of the most important groups of organisms on the planet, in addition to developing their ability to think critically about scientific research. This course is intended to stimulate interest in the natural world, in which insects and plants form the great majority of species, and there are no prerequisites beyond a fascination in the diversity of life.

Prerequisites
None.

Topics include:

1. Insects and plants in Earth history classification, evolution, diversification
2. Rainforests and diversity (Insect diversity and plant diversity, macroecology)
3. Insects as crop pests
4. Ants and plants
5. Multitrophic interactions in nature that include insects and plants
6. Insect-plant mutualisms
7. Toxicity and warning coloration
8. Butterfly mimicry and plants
9. Orchids and bees
10. Aquatic insects
11. Fruit-feeding butterflies
12. Beetles and plants
13. Plants and insect mating
14. Climate change, insect-plant relationships and conservation

PREVIOUS COURSES:

Insects and Plants (co-taught with Andrei Sourakov)

Spring 2015, 1 credit, IDH3931 (section 1221)/ENY4905 (section 147C). Spring 2015 syllabus

Evolutionary Biogeography (co-taught with Nico Cellinese)

Spring 2014, 3 credits, PCB6675C, BOT6935, ZOO6927. Spring 2014 syllabus
Spring 2011, 3 credits, BOT 6935/6554. Spring 2011 syllabus

Biology of Lepidoptera (co-taught with Andrei Sourakov)

Spring 2012, 1 credit, ENY 4905/6934. Spring 2012 syllabus
Spring 2010, 1 credit, ENY 4905/6934. Spring 2010 syllabus

Macroecology

Spring 2008, 1 credit, ZOO 4926/6927. Spring 2008 syllabus

Insect Biogeography

Spring 2013, 1 credit, ENY 4905/6934. Spring 2013 syllabus
Spring 2009, 1 credit, ENY 4905/6934. Spring 2009 syllabus
Spring 2007, 2 credits, ENY 4905/6934. Spring 2007 syllabus.