Author: Bernard Goffinet

New publications on lichens from CONN

Frye H.A., Z. Muscavitch & B. Goffinet. 2021. Discovery of epiphytic lichens in Connecticut suggests novel introduction and reintroduction via horticultural practices. The Bryologist 124: 191–197. pdf

Abstract readsThe discovery of Teloschistes chrysophthalmus in Connecticut more than one hundred years since its last known occurrence is argued to result from human introduction. The species only occurred on the horticultural tree, Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis, planted on the University of Connecticut campus. Gleditsia triacanthos is not indigenous to northeastern North America but is widespread in the central United States. Other epiphytic macrolichens also recorded on this phorophyte include Punctelia bolliana and Parmotrema austrosinense, both widespread in the central United States, and new to Connecticut and New England, respectively. This is likely the first reported case of combined introductions of lichenized fungi in North America through the import of ornamental trees.

Storrs L. Olson supporter of bryology at UCONN passed away

Storrs L. Olson and B. Goffinet examining Dillenius' 1741 book "History Muscorum"
Storrs L. Olson and B. Goffinet examining Dillenius’ 1741 book “History Muscorum”

Storrs L. Olson, an international renowned ornithologist and emeritus curator of birds at The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, passed away on January 20, 2020 in Fredericksburg, VA. Storrs Olson was also a passionate bryologist, inspired by a bryology course taught by Ruth Breen (author of the Mosses of Florida, 1963, University of Florida Press Gainesville) at Florida State University.

Storrs had acquired a comprehensive library of bryological literature that included one of 250 copies of John Dillenius’ 1741 Historia Muscorum, Hedwig’s 1801 Species Muscorum Frondosorum and Schwägrichen’s 1830 Species Muscorum Frondosorum.

In 2008, Storrs donated his entire library to the University of Connecticut in support of bryological research, and the collection of books and reprints is housed in the library of the Biodiversity Research Collection as the Storrs L. Olson bryological library. Through financial support from Storrs, his mother and various donors, the library continues to grow, and currently holds close to 1800 publications.

We remain grateful for his support. Our sincere condolences to his family. Obituary


New publication based on paleo collection

Na Y., J. Blanchard & H. Wang. 2020. Fruits, seeds and flowers from the Puryear clay pit (middle Eocene Cockfield Formation), western Tennessee, USA. Palaeontologia Electronica 23:a49. pdf

Abstract reads: Based on examination of 352 specimens collected from the Puryear clay pit (middle Eocene Cockfield Formation, Claiborne Group), Henry County, Tennessee, we recognize 72 fossil taxa/morphotypes of angiosperms. Thirty-two taxa/morphotypes are related to the following 12 extant families: Altingiaceae (2), Araliaceae (1), Arecaceae (2), Cannabaceae (1), Ceratophyllaceae (1), Euphorbiaceae (1), Fabaceae (11), Fagaceae (7), Juglandaceae (3), Oleaceae (1), Theaceae (1), and Ulmaceae (1). The rest (40 taxa/morphotypes) do not have enough diagnostic characters to assess their modern affinities. We establish two new fossil species Andrewsiocarpon puryearensis sp. nov. (Theaceae) and Paleopanax puryearensis sp. nov. (Araliaceae). Of the 72 taxa/morphotypes recognized, 50 are unique to the Puryear locality (Cockfield Formation), 11 are shared with the Warman locality (Cockfield Formation), eight are shared with the Bovay and Bolden localities (Tallahatta Formation), and three are shared by all three localities. Of the 155 taxa/morphotypes recognized from the Bovay/Bolden, Warman, and Puryear localities, only three taxa/morphotypes are shared by all three localities. This study has expanded our knowledge of the Eocene plant diversity of the southeastern United States and has further confirmed our previous observation that there is a remarkable lack of species overlap among the localities examined to date.

Dr. Erin Kuprewicz in the news for Snapshot USA!

White-tailed deerVertebrate Collections Manager in the BRC, Dr. Erin Kuprewicz was recently highlighted in a UConn Today article for her local research and involvement in the nationwide Snapshot USA mammal monitoring project. This unprecedented rapid wildlife inventory involves deploying motion and heat-detecting camera traps in every state of the USA at the same time of each year (September-October) to record wildlife activity. 2020 is the second year of this long-term project and Dr. Kuprewicz is excited to compare the results of this year’s study to those from 2019 to see how wildlife around Storrs has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced human activity in the environment because of quarantine. A BRC Independent Study undergraduate will participate in species identifications in camera trap photos. This news was also highlighted by our local newspaper, the Hartford Courant.


Vandana Gurung processed major plant collection

Vandana Gurung processing herbarium specimensAs the summer graduate assistant in the herbarium, Vandana Gurung (EEB graduate student, Diggle lab) facilitated the distribution of over 2,000 duplicate herbarium specimens collected by Les Mehrhoff, former collections manager of the G.S. Torrey Herbarium (CONN). Vandana’s work involved comparing a list of Mehrhoff’s collection numbers against a spreadsheet of the 22,000+ Mehrhoff collections already accessioned in the herbarium, identifying collection numbers that do not appear in the master spreadsheet (i.e., specimens filed as “duplicates” that were never mounted and added to the herbarium), and linking the remaining numbers to existing collection data from the database. She prepared excel spreadsheets of collection data which were used to generate rough drafts of over 2,000 labels, and then edited each label to eliminate replicated locality data and to ensure correct formatting. Vandana’s efficiency with R and attention to detail while editing labels expedited the transformation of several herbarium cabinets’ worth of material from mystery specimens to organized, labeled duplicates ready for distribution to other collections once covid-19 shipping restrictions are lifted.

EEB5500 on-line only this fall

Every semester we run EEB 5500 Introduction to Natural History Collections a popular course with lively discussions, tours of the collections and hands-on preparation of specimens. This semester we are on-line only and instead on meetings for four evenings, we will get together weekly for one hour.
EEB 5500 Introduction to Natural History Collections
Virtually explore “behind the scenes” at our state-of-the-art Biodiversity Research Collections
Discover history, threats, research, ethics, and scandals, and observe specimen preparation!
1 Credit, every Monday 11:15-12:05, starting Sept. 14
Instructors: Drs. Sarah Taylor, Katrina Menard, Erin Kuprewicz & Bernard Goffinet
Email for a permission number

Grace Vaziri curating bird collection

Grace VaziriDespite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of most on-site operations in the Biodiversity Research Collections (BRC) since March 2020, the Vertebrate Division of the BRC is happy to say that we still were able to have a fantastic graduate student complete some essential work with our fluid-preserved ornithological collection!

Working with Dr. Erin Kuprewicz, our vertebrate collections manager, Grace Vaziri (EEB Ph.D. student, Knutie lab) used her attention to detail and avian expertise to sort, catalog, and label the little-known bird specimens that we currently keep in our spirit collection. Her work involved the assessment of all specimens kept in jars of ethanol, careful notation of specimen data in our catalog, and methodical labeling of all individuals (by tying small archival paper labels to bird legs)—she ultimately catalogued and labeled over 200 birds! Before Grace’s work in the BRC, this sub-collection of our larger bird collection was virtually unknown. With her essential contributions, we can now use these “wet birds” for exciting new research projects and teaching.

New publication based on collections

Sanborn, A.F. The cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of Peru including the description of twenty-four new species, three new synonymies and thirty-seven new records.  Zootaxa 4785(1):  1-129. (Monograph ISBN 978-1-77670-945-8)


Abstract reads: The known cicada fauna of Peru is identified. Fidicinoides ptychodiropeda n. sp., Guyalna capnopteryx n. sp., G. chrysinothrix n. sp., G. dyticamazona n. sp., G. spilonotophora n. sp., Carineta acommosis n. sp., C. bitorquata n. sp., C. castaneopercula n. sp., C. dicrophryxothrix n. sp., C. digitata n. sp., C. nigrafissura n. sp., C. quadrofastigiata n. sp., C. rumipataensis n. sp., C. tingomariaensis n. sp., C. tricuspis n. sp., Herrera castanetorquata n. sp., H. cephalodigramma n. sp., H. chanchamayoensis n. sp., H. dentata n. sp., H. moyabambaensis n. sp., H. nigropercula n. sp., H. polygramma n. sp., H. quadrimacula n. sp., and H. viriventralis n. sp. are described as new. Three taxa, Cicada (Prunasis) pulcherrima var. a Stål, 1862a, C. (P.) pulcherrima var. b Stål, 1862a, and C. (P.) pulcherrima var. c Stål, 1862a are shown to be unavailable as well as junior synonyms of Prunasis pulcherrima (Stål, 1854) which is shown to be the correct name for the taxon over the preoccupied Cicada viridula Walker, 1850. The first records of Durangona tigrina Distant, 1911, Fidicina obscura Boulard & Martinelli, 1996, F. robini Boulard & Martinelli, 1996, Fidicinoides descampsi Boulard & Martinelli, 1996, F. determinata (Walker, 1858a), F. duckensis Boulard & Martinelli, 1996, F. pseudethelae Boulard & Martinelli, 1996, Proarna bergi (Distant, 1892a), P. dactyliophora Berg, 1879, P. strigicollis Jacobi, 1907, Guyalna aurora Ruschel, 2017, G. bicolor (Olivier, 1790), G. chlorogena (Walker, 1850), G. distanti (Goding, 1925), G. glauca (Goding, 1925), Majeorona aper (Walker, 1850), M. ecuatoriana Goding, 1925, M. truncata Goding, 1925, Orialella aerizulae Boulard, 1986b, Calyria cuna (Walker, 1850), Prunasis pulcherrima (Stål, 1854), Taphura boulardi Sanborn, 2011a, Carineta boulardi Champanhet, 1999, Carineta cearana Distant, 1906b, C. congrua Walker, 1858b, C. dolosa Boulard, 1986a, C. doxiptera Walker, 1858a, C. ecuatoriana Goding, 1925, C. gemella Boulard, 1986a, C. hamata Sanborn, 2019b, C. matura Distant, 1892b, C. pilifera Walker, 1858a, C. pilosa Walker, 1850, C. ventrilloni Boulard, 1986a, Herrera concolor Sanborn, 2019b, H. melanomesocranon Sanborn, 2019b, and H. phyllodes Sanborn, 2019b are provided. The records for Durangona tigrina Distant, 1911 are the first records of the genus Durangona Distant, 1911 and tribe Durangonini Moulds and Marshall, 2018 and the records for Prunasis pulcherrima (Stål, 1854) are the first for the genus Prunasis Stål, 1862a in Peru. Previous records of Zammara tympanum (Fabricius, 1803), Orialella boliviana (Distant, 1904b), Guyalna brisa (Walker, 1850) and Selymbria stigmatica (Germar, 1834) are considered to be misidentifications of Z. hertha Schmidt, 1919, O. aerizulae, G. dyticamazona n. sp. and S. madredediosensis Sanborn, 2019b, respectively, so that Z. tympanum, O. boliviana, G. brisa and S. stigmatica are removed from the cicada fauna of Peru. The Peruvian records of Dorisiana semilata (Walker, 1850) are shown to be due to an incorrect synonymy of D. metcalfi Sanborn & Heath, 2014 and the species is removed from the faunal list as well. Additional new records of Fidicinoides poulaini Boulard & Martinelli, 1996 are provided for Brazil and Guyalna chlorogena (Walker, 1850) for French Guiana to expand the known distribution of these species. The currently known Peruvian cicada fauna is comprised of 114 described species from 23 genera, eight tribes and three subfamilies with a 115% increase in the known cicada fauna provided here.