Posts

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A new home for an old Blog

Welcome to the new home of the ESC Blog!

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Nearly 350 million years ago, insects evolved the ability to totally transform themselves, and proceeded to take over the planet in a way that no other group of organisms has since. These new holometabolous species had stumbled upon the process of complete metamorphosis, a complex physiological process that is controlled by hormonal regulation, connected to outside stimuli, and constrained by natural selection, and which provided them the opportunity to further divide and conquer ecological niches while avoiding having adults compete directly with larvae for resources and space.

Today, insects with the ability to rearrange and reassign the majority of their cells into a new phenotypic expression are considered by many to represent a perfect allegory for rebirth, a new chance to make a difference, and a new opportunity to take on the world in ways they couldn’t before. While we here at the ESC Blog aren’t immune to allusions of grandeur and promises of world-changing impact, for now we’ll happily settle for a metamorphosis that results in a new look and home on the newly redesigned Entomological Society of Canada website, while we continue to provide a means for entomologists to share their passion, interests, and ideas in a public forum.

The ESC Blog debuted in June, 2012 at escsecblog.com, primarily because the old ESC website predated the very concept of a blog, and wasn’t technologically capable of hosting one. Now that the ESC homepage has been redesigned and updated thanks to Jordan Bannerman and the ESC Web Content committee, it only makes sense for us to make like a monarch and migrate, allowing us to better integrate with all of the other endeavours and efforts associated with the Entomological Society of Canada, and provide our authors and community better access to the ESC membership-at-large.

If this is your first introduction to the ESC Blog, thanks for joining us! While we work to continue bringing new content to the blog, why not poke through our archives (which we’ve fully migrated over to our new home) and see what we’ve been up to the last 5 years? Originally founded by Chris Buddle, Crystal Ernst, and Morgan Jackson as a means for entomologists with an interest in Canadian entomology to share what they were up to, the ESC Blog has provided an opportunity for entomologists and insect enthusiasts to contribute to a global conversation. Since 2012, we’ve welcomed Sean McCann as an additional editor, and published more than 200 articles that have been widely shared and read online, and we look forward to continuing to bring the inside scoop on insect research for years to come. We’ve covered everything from the pluralization of thrips, to an entomologist’s Nobel connection, and are thrilled to share new research from the next generation of entomologists.

If you’re interested in contributing to the ESC Blog, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’re always looking for stories from the lab or field, updates on new and emerging research that you’re involved with (or that you just admire!), and the ways in which insects intersect with our lives. If you have photos, videos, or observations you’d like to share, graduate student or employment opportunities you need to recruit, or resources for your research that you need to find, we’re more than happy to help you share them with the entomological community in a timely manner. And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow @CanEntomologist for up-to-the-minute updates from your society, as well as its members, editors, and publications.

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Emerald Ash Borer – marking 10 years of research

Emerald Ash Borer. Credit Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service. Bugwood.org

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). Credit: Debbie Miller USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

To mark the publication of the Emerald Ash Borer special issue from The Canadian Entomologist, guest editors Chris MacQuarrie and Krista Ryall from Natural Resources Canada have co-authored this blog post about the issue.

In 2002, residents of Detroit, Michigan noticed something was killing their ash trees. Ash trees in North America are susceptible to some diseases that can result in decline and mortality, so a forest disease specialist was dispatched to investigate why these trees were dying. It was soon determined that the culprit was not a disease, but an insect: a shiny, metallic-green, buprestid beetle not previously known from Michigan, or anywhere else in North America. Authorities in Michigan notified their Canadian counterparts who soon discovered numerous ash trees dying in Windsor, Ontario from damage caused by the same beetle. Eventually, with the help of a European systematist the insect was determined to be the previously described (and previously rare) Agrilus planipennis. Today, this insect is better known by its common name:  the emerald ash borer.

To commemorate the discovery of emerald ash borer in North America, we organized a symposium and workshop at the 2013 Entomological Society of Canada’s and Ontario’s Joint Meeting in Guelph, Ontario. The timing and location of this workshop seemed appropriate because 2013 marked 10 years of research on the emerald ash borer and Guelph is located only a few 100 kilometres from where emerald ash borer was first found, and is now well within the insect’s Canadian range. Our goal with this symposium was to review the state of knowledge on emerald ash borer after ten years of research, and look ahead to the questions that researchers will be asking as the infestation continues to grow and spread. We were fortunate that many of the researchers who have contributed so much of what we know about emerald ash borer were able to participate.

We were quite pleased with how well the symposium turned out. However, information presented in a symposium is ephemeral and fades away as soon as the last talk is over. To prevent this, we imposed upon our presenters to also prepare written versions of their presentations. It took some time, but now these papers are all complete, and have been put together to form a special issue of The Canadian Entomologist dedicated to the emerald ash borer.

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Emerald Ash Borer.  Image credit: Chris MacQuarrie

Ten years is a long time in research. We estimated that over 300 papers on emerald ash borer had been produced over that period, with more being produced every month. It is our hope that this special issue can serve as an entry point into this literature for researchers new to the field. We also hope that this issue can be valuable to more established researchers as well, to use as a resource and a touchstone in their own work. This special issue can also serve as a reminder of how much effort is required (in both research and by people) to understand a new pest. What we have learned about emerald ash borer over the past ten years (well, 13 years now) is immense. There is still much to learn though.”

The Emerald Ash Borer special issue is the free sample issue of The Canadian Entomologist for 2015.

Access the special issue for free until 1st January 2016 here.

Main image credit: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

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Happy 150th Birthday ESO & ESC!

Today is the day, April 16, 1863, in Toronto, Ontario, when it all began….when we became open to “all students and lovers of entomology”….when the colourful histories of the Entomological Societies of Ontario and Canada became “inextricably entwined” (Timms 2010, ESC Bulletin, 42(2):77-83). Despite some early, shared pain in our respective emergences as separate, adult societies, we cannot be anything but jointly proud on this date of our inauguration 150 years ago. We thankfully today can both lay claim to being one of the oldest scientific societies in North America and can happily share our heritage without a bun fight, as of yore.

So happy birthday to us, and please join us in celebration in Guelph at the Joint Annual Meeting of the ESC and ESO, October 20-23, 2013.

HappyBirthdayESOC

 

 

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Self-discovery and where to next?

By ESC President Rosemarie DeClerck-Floate

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I’m new to blogging, so when asked by our Blog Administrators to provide a first installment as President, I was at a bit of a loss on how to proceed with this. Do I simply distill what I have already shared more formally in the Up-front article from the December 2012, ESC Bulletin?  After some thought, I have decided to try something a bit different, but still related to my article.

One of my personal goals as President is to increase not only membership in the ESC, but the level of “active membership”. To my understanding, an active member is in action and contributing to our Society in any of a myriad of manners; e.g. serving on one of our many committees as either member or Chair, letting their name stand for executive office as Second Vice President or the next Director-at-large, applying to be a Society Trustee (e.g., Secretary, Treasurer, Bulletin Editor, Webmaster) as positions become vacant, collaborating to nominate a deserving fellow member for one of our achievement awards, helping organize a symposium or workshop for the next JAM, giving requested expert advice on issues that crop up within the society, etc. Without the mostly volunteer service of our active members, we cease to exist.

In thinking about what must be a perennial issue for every volunteer group out there…how to get new blood pumped into an organization to sustain it and also allow it to grow, and then how to encourage new involvement in the running of the organization, it occurred to me that one way to do so is to pull back the veil on what active service means, thereby allowing people to envision themselves in a particular active role. Do most of our members really know what projects our 17 regular committees are up to? Do they have a grasp of what is entailed in serving within any of the positions of the society.  Although any one of us can get onto the membership pages of our website and read our By-laws, Standing Rules and Committee Guidelines to find out the nuts and bolts of how our society runs, how many actually do so unless they are serving on a committee?  Honestly, that has been the case for me.  However, by sharing what we do and why, it gives a more human face to the intermeshed components of our organization, and may even inspire someone to step forth to serve.

So to get the ball rolling, let’s start with my experience so far and what is currently keeping me preoccupied on behalf of the society.  I have been in my role as President now for nearly 21 weeks and quickly am getting my legs in the job. Initially the position presented a somewhat daunting view of what lay ahead for me in terms of work load and challenges, and my legs were shaky. I was wondering how in heck I was going to juggle this major responsibility along with my research program and other activities. However, the experience has recently morphed into one of enjoyment that has actually given me energy overall and an eagerness to meet the challenges head-on with the help of others.  A large part of the enjoyment is coming from working with some excellent active members from across the country that are very dedicated and brimming with their own visions of us and how to move our society in new directions. There is such vibrancy to the ESC!

As President, I am ex officio on each of the regular committees, plus two newly-struck ad hoc committees, which means I get a bird’s eye view of what is happening within each as Committee Chairs cc me on their activity and discussions. Not all of them are active at the same time, but it is kind of like watching fireworks go off in different sectors of the sky, and then gauging how it all fits into the progression and synchronization of the whole show. Sometimes I may participate in the activity (either by invitation or when I clearly see where I need to get into action), but more often I find myself just watching, learning, or deciding where to nudge if needed. I also am encouraging new projects by either planting ideas with others, or enabling someone else’s idea by getting the appropriate people together. I must say that it is very gratifying watching projects take hold and grow to potential Board presentation stage, even without any involvement from me at all. Some of the projects that are in the early stages of discussion involve our student membership; for instance, we are sussing out new opportunities for career and leadership development. Overall, the role is a great way to develop improved management/people and leadership skills…..and even some French language skills because of the patience and encouragement of our francophone members.

But to present the full picture, it isn’t rosy all the time, as there are some serious matters to deal with which could have an impact on the future of our society. That’s where I have to screw up some courage and jump into the thick of things. A current example is making sure the ESC makes a successful legal transition according to the new Canadian Not-for-profit Corporations Act, which will mean the re-writing of our by-laws this year among other paperwork. Right now, I’m just so thankful to have the help and experience of our active membership as we navigate these new waters.

Regardless of how serious the challenge though, I have faith that we will survive as a society. We have existed for 150 years, so no time to give up now! So for anyone interested, we will be looking for new people to fill the Chairs of the Annual Meeting, Finance and Publications Committees beginning at our next JAM in Guelph, October 2013, and of course, welcome anyone who wishes to serve as members on any of our 17 committees. Think of it as an opportunity for personal and/or career growth and adventure.