Author: Bernard Goffinet

New species of moth discovered

The monographic study by Matson et al. reveals a new species in the genus Lactura with type and other specimens held in the BRC: Matson T.A., D.L. Wagner & S.E. Miller. 2019. A revision of North American Lactura (Lepidoptera, Zygaenoidea, Lacturidae). ZooKeys 846: 75–116. pdf

Abstract reads: The Lactura Walker, 1854 fauna north of Mexico is revised. Six species are documented, one new species Lactura nalli Matson & Wagner, sp. n. is described, and two new synonymies are proposed: Lactura psammitis (Zeller, 1872), syn. n. and L. rhodocentra(Meyrick, 1913), syn. n. One new subspecies Lactura subfervens sapeloensis Matson & Wagner, ssp. n. is also described. Adult and larval stages, male and female genitalia, are illustrated, a preliminary phylogeny is presented based on nuclear and mitochondrial data, distribution records provided for verified specimens, and the biology and life history for each species is briefly characterized. Phylogenetic analyses, larval phenotypes, and life history information reveal that much of the historic taxonomic confusion rampant across this group in North America traces to the phenotypic variation in just one species, L. subfervens (Walker, 1854).

Video on Rettenmeyer legacy released

The exhibit “The Legacy of a Lifetime of Collecting: The Carl and Rettenmeyer Story” that focuses on the inspiring lives of Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer, their scientific journey and the unique collection of army ants and their guests, opened to the public last October. The interactive exhibit emerged from the collaboration between Dr. Anna Lindemann and her students in Digital Media & Design (School of Fine Arts), and members of the AntU team in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. A video highlighting the exhibit and the interdisciplinary collaboration that gave rise to it, as well as testimonials from students and relatives of Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer, is now released.


Exploring plant diversity at UCONN

Every other spring, Dr. Les teaches EEB 3271 Systematic Botany, covering the vast diversity of vascular plants. With 3,000 species, the EEB Biodiversity Education & Research Greenhouses enable students to explore global plant diversity and examine diagnostic traits of lineages on living samples from throughout the world. The course relies also on the extensive holdings of preserved plants in the George Safford Torrey Herbarium (CONN). Together these resources provide unique experiential learning opportunities to all students interested in biodiversity and plant evolution.

A Special Orchid Event at UConn

A special event celebrating Orchids presented by the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. Flyer

This event is FREE and open to the public.

When: Saturday, April , 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Where: Biology/Physics Building Lobby, 91 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT 06269



11:00 am – 12:00 noon: Morning Tea with Charles Darwin—Almost Mad About the Wealth of Orchids

UConn Professor Kenneth Noll portrays history’s most famous biologist and naturalist, Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin’s 1862 book Fertilisation of Orchids explores natural theology and the relationship between insects and plants that resulted in their beautiful and complex forms. Tea and scones will be served.

12:00 — 1.30 pm: Between Talks Visit the EEB Greenhouses (and its orchids)

The greenhouses hold the broadest collection of global plant diversity in the Northeast—including over 200 species of orchids, many of which are not commonly grown. Staff will be on hand to guide visitors.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: Understanding Orchids with Renowned Author William Cullina 

William Cullina, President and CEO, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME

Orchids are the most diverse, mysterious, and exotic plants in the world. Their popularity as houseplants has surged in recent years as advances in nursery production have made them inexpensive and widely available. Drawing from his award-winning Understanding Orchids, Bill will explore the fascinating, challenging, and deeply rewarding world of orchids. You will never see them the same way again! |



New study enabled by the BRC

Physcomitrium pyriforme (Goffinet &  Smith)

The first ordinal phylogenetic study of mosses based on loci from all three genomic compartments was published by Liu et al. Dr. Liu and Medina were former research associates in the Goffinet lab. This study was made possible by the collections held in several herbaria including our CONN collections.

Liu Y., M. G. Johnson, C. J. Cox, R. Medina, N. Devos, A. Vanderpoorten, L. Hedenäs, N. E. Bell, J. R. Shevock, B. Aguero, D. Quandt, N. J. Wickett, A. J. Shaw & B. Goffinet. 2019. Resolution of the backbone phylogeny of mosses using targeted exons from organellar and nuclear genomes. Nature Communications 10: 1485. pdf

Abstract reads: Mosses are a highly diverse lineage of land plants, whose diversification, spanning at least 400 million years, remains phylogenetically ambiguous due to the lack of fossils, massive early extinctions, late radiations, limited morphological variation, and conflicting signal among previously used markers. Here, we present phylogenetic reconstructions based on complete organellar exomes and a comparable set of nuclear genes for this major lineage of land plants. Our analysis of 142 species representing 29 of the 30 moss orders reveals that relative average rates of non-synonymous substitutions in nuclear versus plastid genes are much higher in mosses than in seed plants, consistent with the emerging concept of evolutionary dynamism in mosses. Our results highlight the evolutionary significance of taxa with reduced morphologies, shed light on the relative tempo and mechanisms underlying major cladogenic events, and suggest hypotheses for the relationships and delineation of moss orders.

Collection course successful again!

EEB 5500 (Introduction to Natural History Collections) was offered again this spring, and still drawing students from across campus. Students become acquainted with policies, ethics, and management, and leave with a new appreciation for the role of collection in preserving our natural heritage, and their value in furthering scientific endeavors.  The course is led by Drs. Jane O’Donnell and Sarah Taylor with participation of Dr. Geert Goemans and Susan Hochgraf. Well done!

Anticipating the blooming of the corpse flower!

Our Biodiversity Education & Research Greenhouses host a few plants of Amorphophallus titanum, better known as the corpse flower. Some of us remember the long lines of visitors coming to see the largest inflorescence in the world and experience its unusual smell. Our plants are doing well, but it may take a bit more patience until we can see the majestic flower. See article in Daily Campus.

Living plant collection in the news

EEB’s Biodiversity Research and Education Greenhouse is mentioned in an article of the latest issue of Public Garden published by the American Public Garden Association. The article entitled “What’s our backup plan? A look at living collections security” highlights our greenhouse holding the only known representatives of Solanum ensifolium, a endemic species of Puerto Rico, now considered extremely endangered and potentially extinct in the wild. Clinton Morse and colleagues in EEB are now seeking to propagate the samples to create additional backup collections and repatriate the material back to Puerto Rico.

Water shrews of Connecticut

Jamie Fischer (White Memorial Conservation Center Research Director) visited our vertebrate collections and examined a drawer of water shrew specimens.  Water shrews are unusual members of their group: they spend much of their lives in water, have waterproof fur coats, have a heavy fur fringe on their feet that helps them paddle and even ‘walk on water’ for more than a meter.  Jamie is writing a petition to have them added to a list of designated species for conservation in the state.