Museum researcher uses DNA bar coding to improve tropical butterfly classification

November 1st, 2011

By Danielle Torrent

When Charles Darwin journeyed to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s, he collected some mysterious birds that later helped shape his theory of evolution by natural selection. Dubbed “Darwin’s finches,” they became famous as an example of adaptive radiation, in which animals evolve from a common ancestor to utilize different ecological niches.

Two centuries later, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, a Florida Museum of Natural History researcher was attracted to a group of insects he calls “Darwin’s butterflies,” because of their similarly high degree of diversity derived from a common ancestor. But it wasn’t until 20 years after beginning his research on the genus Calisto as a University of Florida Ph.D. student that Andrei Sourakov found the missing link for understanding how the group should be classified.

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‘Amazing Butterflies’ interactive maze exhibit opens Saturday at Fla. Museum

June 9th, 2009

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Transform into a caterpillar and grow into a butterfly beginning Saturday at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest temporary exhibit, “Amazing Butterflies.”

In “Amazing Butterflies,” visitors experience the challenges of being a caterpillar as it morphs into a beautiful butterfly through a hands-on human maze. Along the way, they discover the ways caterpillars move, what they eat and how other creatures help them achieve their transformation.

“This exhibit is a wonderfully fun, family-friendly show and perfectly complements the experience of seeing live butterflies in our Butterfly Rainforest,” said Florida Museum exhibits director Darcie MacMahon.

Families can learn to crawl like a caterpillar by slipping into a set of caterpillar legs and using teamwork and locomotion to sprint for the finish line. Visitors will discover why carpenter ants in Panama defend metalmark caterpillars from parasitic wasps and other predators, and feed a caterpillar its lunch through team games and contests. (more…)

UF student wins $80,000 international conservation award for butterfly research

October 19th, 2006

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida entomology doctoral student Emily Saarinen has received the international Canon National Parks Science Scholars scholarship, an $80,000 three-year award for her research on endangered Miami blue butterflies. Saarinen is one of eight students from the Americas to receive the award, designed to support training for the next generation of conservation scientists. The program is sponsored by Canon U.S.A. Inc., the U.S. National Park Service and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Saarinen works in UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and the department of entomology and nematology in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. She is co-advised by Jaret Daniels and Jacqueline Miller.

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Fla. Museum to host ‘Bats & Butterflies: A Celebration of Pollinators’ during Museum Nights April 6

March 21st, 2006

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History invites University of Florida students to visit its award-winning Butterfly Rainforest, search for night-flying moths and learn about Florida pollinators, such as bats and butterflies at its “Bats & Butterflies: A Celebration of Pollinators” April 6. Admission to the Butterfly Rainforest is free to UF students with their Gator 1 identification card from 5-7:30 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Lubee Bat Conservancy.

“Bats & Butterflies: A Celebration of Pollinators” is being held during Museum Nights, a collaboration among University of Florida Student Government, the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art in which both museums are open from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday evenings.

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Fla. Museum presents ‘Beautiful Butterflies’ home school classes — Pre-registration required by March 27

March 7th, 2006

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer a four-week home school class series for children ages 7-11 titled “Beautiful Butterflies” from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 10, 17 and 24 and May 1.

The class will explore the Butterfly Rainforest, which features hundreds of free-flying native and exotic butterflies and moths. Participants will compare butterflies and moths and explore their life cycles and adaptations. Students also have the chance to learn to identify common Florida butterflies and how to attract these butterflies to their own gardens.

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Florida Museum seeks volunteers to work with butterflies

November 22nd, 2005

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer a training session for volunteers interested in working with butterflies at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dec. 10.

Both adult and junior volunteers, ages 13-17, are needed for various volunteer opportunities. A light breakfast will be provided at the session, but participants must bring their own lunch. No prior experience or special skills are necessary to participate. For more information or to R.S.V.P., contact Tori Derr, (352) 846-2000, ext. 206. Please R.S.V.P. by Dec. 8.

Media Contact: Paul Ramey, (352) 846-2000, pramey@ufl.edu
Writer: Emily Banks

 

Fla. Museum to hold butterfly volunteer training Sept. 11

September 2nd, 2005

For Immediate Release Sept 2, 2005

Contact:
Paul Ramey, Dir. of Marketing and Public Relations
Florida Museum of Natural History
(352) 846-2000, ext. 218, pramey@ufl.edu
Writer: Lauren Williams

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer a training session for volunteers interested in working with butterflies at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity from 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. Both adult and junior volunteers, ages 13-17, are needed for various volunteer opportunities. No prior experience or special skills are necessary to participate. For more information or to RSVP, contact Tori Derr, (352) 846-2000, ext. 206. Please RSVP by Sept. 9.

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The Florida Museum of Natural History is Florida’s state natural history museum, dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting biological diversity and cultural heritage. It is located near the intersection of Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in the University of Florida Cultural Plaza in Gainesville. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Florida Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Butterfly Rainforest admission is $7.50 for adults and $4.50 for children ages 3-12. For more information, including directions and parking information, call (352) 846-2000, or visit the museum online, www.flmnh.ufl.edu.

Fla. Museum seeks volunteers to work with butterflies

April 20th, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History will offer a training session for volunteers interested in working with butterflies at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.

Both adult and junior volunteers, ages 13-17, are needed for various volunteer opportunities. A light breakfast will be provided at the session, but participants must bring their own lunch. No prior experience or special skills are necessary to participate. For more information, call (352) 846-2000, ext. 210.

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