IOBC NRS Carabid Shortcourse 2012

The 3rd “Natural History and Taxonomy of the Carabidae” short course was held at Oak Lake Field Station in Brookings County, SD from June 15-19, 2012. The course had a record number of students (17 total) from 10 States and 2 Foreign countries (Canada and Spain). Many of these were graduate students, but we also had representatives from industry and USDA-ARS. Five instructors, each an international expert in their area came to the station to help with the course.

Carabid taxonomy & phylogeny (Kip Will, Foster Purrington, Jon Lundgren)

We spent a lot of time in the course learning to navigate the major keys to genera of the Carabidae. The main reference for this section of the course was the Carabidae chapter in American Beetles Vol I (2001; Ball and Bousquet were the chapter authors). Students became familiar with keying out specimens from 33 genera (17 Tribes) commonly encountered in pitfall sampling. Also, Kip gave a synopsis of the current phylogeny to the Carabidae, as well as a good introduction to carabid morphology

Carabid feeding behavior (Lundgren)

Students were given an introduction to the various feeding ecologies of carabid beetles, the importance of linking structures to function, and how nutritional ecology shapes carabid communities. Students learned to conduct an ELISA-based gut analysis of prey that had been surface marked with Rabbit IgG protein, and we conducted nocturnal observations of carabid predation on sentinel larvae.

Communication systems of insects/carabids (Dan Howard & Carrie Hall)

A lecture to the importance of communication systems to the biology and behavior of insects was presented. To reinforce this lecture, students participated in a range of laboratory exercises that highlighted vibrational communication systems in insects, and we recorded some of the first vibrational signals from carabid beetles using a laser vibrometer.

Invasive carabid beetles (Kamal Gandhi)

There are many species of exotic carabid beetles currently in the U.S., but aside from a few exceptions the ecological impacts of these invasive species are largely unknown. The lecture material from this unit focused on forest species, and how native and exotic carabids respond to disturbances in this habitat. A teaching unit (the invasive carabid board game) was used to reinforce the key ideas of how species within a carabid community respond to disturbance events.

Other units

Discussions were also focused on the gut microbiology of carabids, carabid defensive systems, and the internal gut physiology of carabid beetles (using new imaging technologies- thanks to Jake Socha for this). Gary Larson from SDSU gave a wonderful tour of the vegetation of Oak Lake Field Station.

Here are some photos from the 2012 course!


C2012-vibrometer(left) Using a laser vibrometer, students examined some acoustic signals of carabid beetles and other insects.












(right) Preparing sentinel prey for examination of nocturnal predation events woodland, grassland, and agricultural habitats.



Gary Larson led a tour of the plant community and natural history of Oak Lake Field Station







Students dissected carabid guts and defensive glands to better learn the internal physiology of this important group.


The course provided in depth instruction on identifying 33 common genera of carabid beetles.


     See pictures of 2006 and 2008 courses!