News

By Adrian Thysse, Photographer and  co-organizer of the JAM 2012 Photo Competition
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The Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Alberta and the Entomological Society of Canada will be hosted in Edmonton, November 3-7, 2012 . All participants of JAM 2012 are eligible to participate in the photo competition.

The theme for the competition will be Canadian Arthropods, in the following categories:

1. Dead–pinned or preserved specimens
2. Alive–in the natural habitat
3. Dead or Alive–predators with prey
4. Alive with mites–insect mite symbiosis (Sponsored by International Journal of Acarology editor, Dave Walter)

$150 will be awarded to the winner for each category and the “Alive with mites” winner may be offered the opportunity to be a cover illustration for the International Journal of Acarology.

So far the judges include John Acorn, David Walter and myself, and we are looking forward to a wealth of submissions from all the many entomologists, amateur or professional, that will be attending JAM 2012.

Nothing to submit? There is a whole season of delicious bug photography still ahead!

The closing date for submissions is October 30, so get your macro lens on and get cracking! We are looking forward to a biodiverse flood of entries!

Sympetrum sp. Photo by Adrian Thysse

Originally posted at Splendour Awaits http://bugs.adrianthysse.com/2012/06/jam-2012-photo-competition-canadian-arthropods/

Stick Insect Baculum extradentatum

Physiology Friday is a monthly column by UWO PhD candidate Katie Marshall and will feature new Canadian research on insect physiology.

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Nitric oxide (NO) is usually overshadowed in fame by its more famous cousin laughing gas, but it’s difficult to think of many simple molecules that have such a variety of important biological functions.  While NO only lasts a few seconds in the free gaseous state in the blood, it has been implicated in processes that involve everything from immune function to neurotransmission.  One important role for NO is in the cardiac system, where it functions as a vasodilator and in vertebrates it slows heart rate, while in insects it has the opposite effect.

Stick Insect Baculum extradentatum

Baculum extradentatum photo by Sara da Silva

Most of the research about the physiological functions of NO has focused on vertebrates, but recent work published in the journal of Cellular Signalling by graduate student Sara da Silva and her postdoctoral fellow mentor Rosa da Silva in the lab of Angela Lange (University of Toronto Mississauga), has shown that, unlike other insects, the Vietnamese stick insect Baculum extradentatum can respond to NO like a vertebrate.

“Our initial research interests in cardiac physiology were influenced by earlier work indicating that stick insect hearts are innervated and can be modulated by endogenous chemicals [like NO],” says study director and University of Toronto Biology professor Angela Lange.  “It is for this reason that we chose this understudied organism, which contains a simplified cardiovascular system that can be considered a model for work on other cardiac systems.”

The researchers first attempted to find the natural source of NO in the stick insect by removing hemolymph (blood) samples and staining for the presence of an enzyme that produces NO.  Then they examined the effects of NO on heart rate by dissecting the dorsal vessel out and maintaining it in a Petri dish with physiological saline.  They could measure heart rate through the placement of electrodes on either side of the dissected heart, and monitor the effects of various chemicals on the cardiac activity of the stick insect.   They also could examine whether heart rate was mediated by the central nervous system by leaving the nervous system attached or not.

insect heart rate

The effects of nitric oxide on the heart rate of B. extradentatum. Figure 3 from da Silva et al. 2012

They found that the hemocytes (blood cells) of the stick insect were producing an enzyme that was similar to the enzyme other animals use to produce NO.  In addition, the more of a chemical called MAHMA-NONOate (which produces NO) they added, the slower the stick insect hearts beat.  This surprising effect was completely opposite to what had been found in other insects and was more like the response of the vertebrate heart.

“Insects have evolved different strategies depending upon life history, and have co-opted different messenger systems for this success,” says study author da Silva. “We need to understand the full ecology of all species to finally appreciate the factors involved.”

Using the same setup, they also tested other components of a system of compounds that they thought might be involved in the pathway that produces NO that leads to decreased heart rate in B. extradentatum.  They believe that NO is produced in the hemocytes, travels to the wall of the heart, and then leads to the production of a messenger molecule that decreases heart rate.

Schematic diagram of the proposed regulation of cardiac activity in B. extradentatum by the gaseous signaling molecule, nitric oxide (NO)

Schematic diagram of the proposed regulation of cardiac activity in B. extradentatum by the gaseous signaling molecule, nitric oxide (NO). Figure 7 from da Silva et al. 2012.

“This study further emphasizes the evolutionary links between the physiological processes of vertebrate and invertebrate systems,” says da Silva. “Our findings suggest that signaling molecules (such as NO) common to both types of organisms can have similar effects on cardiac activity.  These novel findings demonstrate that the study of vertebrate systems can be complemented with studies in model invertebrate organisms.”

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da Silva, R., da Silva, S.R. & Lange, A.B. (2012). The regulation of cardiac activity by nitric oxide (NO) in the Vietnamese stick insect, Baculum extradentatum, Cellular Signalling, 24 (6) 1350. DOI: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2012.01.010

Today’s post comes from Julia Mlynarek on behalf of the 2012 ESC-ESAlberta JAM organizing committee.

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Dear students,

As you may have heard, there will be a workshop on the publication process called “Perspectives on the Publication Process” during the 2012 ESC-ESAlberta JAM.

Publishing research in a high quality, peer-reviewed scientific journal remains an important goal for us, but the process can be difficult to navigate, be frustrating, and create a great deal of anxiety and stress. On the Sunday morning immediately before the 2012 Joint Annual Meeting (4 November) in Edmonton, the Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta will be jointly hosting a workshop at the JAM venue about the publication process. The overall goal is to provide attendees (students and seasoned professionals alike) with practical information about all aspects of publishing.

The organisers would like your input on the topics that will be discussed during the workshop. Please fill out this short (2 questions) survey by June 20th (I need to tally the scores and forward them to the organising committee).

The link to the survey – http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KYN56MK

Please take the time to fill it out. It will ensure that you have a say in what is discussed!

By Christopher Cloutier, Naturalist, Morgan Arboretum
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The Morgan Arboretum of McGill University, with its 245 ha of forest and interspersed field habitats, is home to nearly 50 species of butterflies. Over the past two years I have tried to document all species occurring within the Arboretum and made note of the date of their earliest appearance. Many of the butterflies observed are the “expected” species, such as the Question Mark, White Admiral and the Monarch.

Others, though, were much more exciting finds: the Banded and Acadian Hairstreaks, the Baltimore Checkerspot and the Silver Spotted Skipper to name a few. Of all the highlight species found over the past two years, one that truly stands out is the Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis).

Hackberry Emperor looking down from a high perch. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

Like many other butterfly species, the Emperor is specific to one type of host plant for its larvae. You guessed it: the Hackberry Tree (Celtis occidentalis). Although the Arboretum lies within the native range for this tree, it is one that is rarely encountered. It is found naturally on the outskirts of the property and nowhere near the main walking trails; that is, until about 10 years ago when the Arboretum planted several trees near the parking lots along the main road. The trees today are no taller than 4m but are growing rapidly. This represents nearly the entire habitat in which the Emperors were discovered back in 2010, and this is the tale of their unusual discovery.

Unlike most of the species which I have documented over the years, this one came as a report from a concerned visitor to the Arboretum. I remember this case vividly as it was quite unique. A visitor to the Arboretum came by the gatehouse to mention that they were seeing a large butterfly up close. In fact, the butterfly was landing on them with regularity every time they passed by a certain location. This was something I had to see for myself. Not knowing what to expect I followed the man to where he encountered this critter and sure enough we were standing right next to the Hackberry plantation. Within less than a minute a butterfly alighted on my shoulder, a species I had never encountered before. I quickly collected it with my aerial net and brought it back to my office for a closer look.

It didn’t take long to discover that this beautiful butterfly was indeed the Hackberry Emperor. After doing a little bit of research, I realized that this was not the first time that this species had been encountered at the Arboretum, but it was the first time in nearly half a decade. I decided to have a little photo shoot with the insect just to get some record shots. I then gave it a sip of grape juice and brought it back to where I first captured it.

Hackberry Emperor refueling after a photo shoot. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

I decided to have a closer look at the Hackberry trees scattered about on the grassy lawn. There were only five trees, not more than twice my height, and I quickly noticed why the butterflies were here. They were breeding. After searching the gall-riddled leaves of the Hackberries, I discovered several clusters of eggs as well as some recently hatched first instar larvae. Again, upon my arrival several adults were patrolling the area trying to frighten me away, or maybe trying to get a closer look at who I was. It didn’t seem to matter what colour clothing I was wearing, they just seemed interested in large silhouettes near their nursery.

Eggs and freshly hatched larvae of the Hackberry Emperor. Credit: Christopher Cloutier

Since this first discovery I have encountered Hackberry Emperors every summer since. They are typically active in mid-June and their activity time extends into July and August. Their dependence on a single tree species makes this butterfly quite interesting. Had we chosen to plant a different species of tree as a windbreak for the parking area, we may not have ever encountered this butterfly again. It seems now that we have made an ideal artificial breeding habitat for this beautiful insect, and hopefully they choose to use it year after year, that is, as long as they abide by our strict “no harassing other visitors” policy.

My name is Chris Buddle – I’m an Associate Professor at McGill University, in Quebec, Canada, and the Editor-in-Chief for The Canadian Entomologist. I have worked at McGill University, in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, for about 10 years. As a Professor, my work involves all three aspects of academia – teaching, research, and service.

For teaching, I instruct undergraduate courses in our “Environmental Biology” program – this involves teaching courses in both my own area of expertise (entomology) as well as in more general areas (e.g., ecology).

My research program is quite varied; although originally hired as a “Forest Insect Ecologist” my research expertise is broader than that, and I currently oversee graduate students working on insect pest management, the ecology of herbivorous insects in forest canopies, and the biodiversity of Arctic arthropods. The latter initiative is part of a larger-scale project titled the Northern Biodiversity Program.

For “service” I devote a lot of time and energy into my position as the Editor-in-Chief for the Entomological Society of Canada’s flagship journal The Canadian Entomologist (TCE) – a journal that joined a publishing partnership with Cambridge University Press in January of this year.

TCE is an excellent scientific journal, and I am honoured to be associated with it. Its excellence is in part because of TCE’s long history as an internationally renowned entomology journal – it has been published continuously since 1868. TCE is a journal with particularly high editorial and technical standards. We pride ourselves on serving authors well, and on producing a product that has been carefully edited, and that is technically clean. TCE is one of the relatively rare entomology journals that publishes on all facets of the discipline, including taxonomy and systematics, biodiversity and evolution, insect pest management, behaviour and ecology, and more.

We are, therefore, an entomology journal for all entomologists – anyone interested in arthropods can generally find an article of relevance within its pages. I’m also excited about TCE’s new partnership with Cambridge. This publishing house has an equally impressive history, and an equally high standard of publication quality. With this partnership, authors no longer pay page charges for TCE, and receive a complementary PDF of their articles.

As Editor-in-Chief, I have an opportunity to help guide the journal into the future. My editorial objectives include a balance of doing what we have done well in the past (i.e., high quality standards), but also seeking some new opportunities. For example we are initiating a plan to produce a topical “special issue” of TCE every year, for the first issue of each volume. For Volume 145 (the year 2013), we will be devoting an entire issue to the topic of “Perspectives on Arctic Arthropods“. This is an extremely important area of study given the current global concerns about changing climates, especially since some of the effects will be most acute in polar regions. The call for papers for this special issue went out at the end of January, and authors have until 15 June 2012 to submit their manuscripts.

Another objective I have is to continually improve our service to authors. Our move to an on-line manuscript submission system is helping this tremendously and I am continuing to work with my editorial team to tweak the system for the benefit of our authors. I am also interested in bringing entomology, and TCE, to a broader audience. Entomology is a vast and wonderful discipline, but the pages of entomology journals often target a specialized audience. I think a lot of what we publish in the journal is of broad interest, and for that reason, I tweet for the Entomological Society of Canada’s twitter account (follow us: @CanEntomologist). This is an effective way to use social media to highlight articles we publish, activities of the Entomological Society of Canada, and other interesting entomology events and stories. We also have plans to work with our society to develop a blog devoted to entomology in Canada, and TCE will be featured prominently on this blog.

I would like to conclude with a few words of advice for up-and-coming entomologists looking to publish their work. The publication ‘game’ can be a complex one, and it is a changing landscape that can be difficult to navigate. In addition to thinking about the traditional metrics when considering different journals, I do recommend that all potential authors look carefully at the “aims and scope” section for potential venues for publication – it is important that your work will be a good fit with the journal. It’s also easy to be swayed by numerous journals that are sprouting up and seem to be offering everything for nothing. Some journals may seem attractive at first glance, but be aware that quality of service, and the quality of the editorial process, may be less than what could be offered by journals backed by a publisher with strong credentials. More ‘traditional’ journals often have an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes support, and this matters. I will also stress that all authors must strive for a clean, concise, and well-written manuscript. I cannot state strongly enough that careful writing and proofreading is of paramount importance.

In sum, it’s truly a delight to be associated with The Canadian Entomologist and its publication partner, Cambridge University Press. The future is bright for the journal, and I am exciting to work hard to increase the profile and readership of TCE, all the while maintaining its history of excellence. I have assembled a strong editorial team of 20 subject editors, and have additional support from my Editorial Assistant, Dr. Andrew Smith. We are all here to help you publish your best entomological research, and get it into the hands of an international audience.

Read the first issue of the year for free here

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This article was originally published at http://blog.journals.cambridge.org/ and can be found at: http://blog.journals.cambridge.org/2012/04/meet-the-editor-in-chief-of-the-canadian-entomologist/

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