Project: Insect diversity and ecology
Lead researcher: John Abbott
Buzzing, crawling and swimming around BFL are easily over 2,000 species of insects, all of which are under the watchful eye of John Abbott and his students. Abbott, a dragonfly specialist, maintains the large research and reference insect collection at the laboratory and is involved in many studies of insects around BFL and Texas.
“Insects are part of everyone’s life,” says Abbott. “The information we learn from them directly impacts everyone.”
Much of Abbott’s efforts are directed toward outreach and public education, encouraging awareness of the insect world and furthering our understanding of the dominant group of animals on the planet.
His recently published books, Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-central United States and Odonata of Texas: Volume 1, and his Web site, www.odonatacentral.com, provide scientists and the public with information on this fascinating and important group of insects.
“Dragonflies and damselflies are gaining tremendous popularity, and our work helps to fuel that,” says Abbott.
Some of Abbott’s research focuses on using ant and beetle species as indicators of ecological disturbance. Changes in insect densities and diversity can provide insights into important ecological disturbances, like pollution, that aren’t readily apparent to the human eye.