Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Dead wood is a largely unexplored reservoir of taxonomic diversity and its ecology is poorly known despite its use as fuel and its roles in the carbon cycle and healthy ecosystems. During this research 15 new species of dead wood associated rove beetles (Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae) in the genus Sonoma Casey were discovered and described. Sonoma tolulae (LeConte) was redescribed. Taxonomic issues obfuscated the identity of another dead wood associate, Thoracophorus costalis (Erichson) (Staphylinidae: Osoriinae). Examination of holotypes resulted in the discovery of two nomenclatural synonyms: T. longicollis Motschulsky, and T. fletcheri Wendeler. An inexpensive emergence chamber used to collect insects emergent from dead wood was designed using a modified 18-gallon plastic tote box. Five fundamental axes of emergence chamber design are identified and discussed. A study was conducted to explore diversity and abundance of beetles utilizing dead twigs in Louisiana and how they are affected by twig position. A total of 414 specimens representing 35 species were collected. Ground level bundles had the lowest richness, aboveground bundles were highest, and propped bundles were intermediate. Three simultaneous studies (totaling 12,406 specimens) took place at six sites (half primary, half secondary forests) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), USA. Leaf litter and extremely decayed downed coarse woody debris (CWD5) were sampled for Coleoptera with a sifting/Berlese technique. A total of 4261 specimens, representing 216 species were collected. Leaf litter yielded more specimens than CWD5, but both habitats had equal species richness. Coleoptera were collected from various decay classes of fine and coarse woody debris (FWD and CWD, respectively) using an emergence chamber. A total of 5673 specimens, representing 305 species were collected. Of 71 species available for statistical analysis, 27 were associated with fresh FWD, 11 with weathered FWD, four with CWD decay class I, 14 with CWD decay class II, and eight with CWD decay class III-IV. A short-term flight intercept trap (FIT) survey was conducted at two sites and 2472 specimens, representing 217 species, were collected. Species overlap of FIT and emergence was too low to justify FITs as a surrogate technique to survey saproxylic Coleoptera.



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Committee Chair

Carlton, Christopher



Included in

Entomology Commons