Dr. Sara Lewis
Department of Biology, School of arts and sciences, Tufts University
The Lewis laboratory is interested in a broad range of questions in evolutionary ecology, and our research is aimed at understanding how selection acts in natural populations. This work combines field and laboratory experiments, and uses a variety of model organisms including insects, fish, and marine invertebrates.
One major research focus concerns the key evolutionary process of sexual selection, based on differences among individuals in their mating and/or paternity success. We are particularly interested in how variation in sex ratio, population density, and parental investment patterns determines both courtship behaviors and post-copulatory behaviors. This work includes studies that have explored:
Mechanisms of sperm precedence
Nuptial gift evolution
Ecological context of sexual selection
Title: Emerging Directions in Firefly Research
Over the past few decades, our collective scientific studies have provided a rich tapestry of firefly knowledge. We’ve gained new insights into firefly evolution, biochemistry, behavior, biodiversity, and conservation. Yet many important topics remain unexplored, so this talk will highlight several of these crucial knowledge gaps. Now there is an urgent need for research to fill these gaps, as firefly populations are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and urbanization.
Dr. Lesley Ballantyne
School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Charles Sturt University
Systematics, Taxonomy, Zoology, Evolutionary Biology
Title: The firefly dilemma
SE Asian flashing fireflies will be addressed including their taxonomy, habitat and conservation, with an overview of current progress being made in the area in the taxonomic field. Many species will be introduced in a pictorial presentation.?
Dr. Marc A. Branham
Department of entomology and nematology, University of Florida
Insect systematic and taxonomy
Title: “The Function and Evolution of Bioluminescence in Beetles.”
While bioluminescence in insects is not restricted to the order Coleoptera (beetles), beetles do represent the highest diversity of bioluminescent organisms found in terrestrial ecosystems. Bioluminescence occurs across multiple beetle families, serves multiple functions, and has been repeatedly gained and lost within certain lineages. One such lineage, the family Lampyridae, contains more bioluminescent species than any other family of organisms. This diverse and easily accessible group of beetles is well suited to studies focusing on the function and evolution of bioluminescence.
Dr. Ohba Nobuyoshi
Title: Characteristic features of Japanese aquatic fireflies
About 2000 species of fireflies are globally known, but about 10 species of aquatic fireflies, including three in Japan have been recorded from Asia. A typical firefly of Japan, known as Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata), flies slowly around bodies of shallow water and glows. This fantastic spectacle is so attractive that it has been referred to in poems and songs. This species has been part of the local people’s lives for centuries and is characteristic of Japan’s rural landscape around paddy fields. The Kumejima-botaru (Luciola owadai) is very similar to the Genji-botaru, but the species occurs only on the Kumejima Island of Okinawa at the southern end of Japan. Colour of pronotum, activity, oviposition behaviour, life cycle and seasonal appearance are all clearly different from Genji-botaru. How these two species disperse and communicate are important questions, since both species are endemic to Japan.
The so-called Heike-firefly (Luciola lateralis) is smaller than Genji-botaru and the Kumejima-botaru. It occurs in paddy fields and wetlands and its flash communication system differs from that of the Genji-botaru. Heike-botaru is present throughout Japan with the exception of Okinawa Island, and it is therefore Japan’s most common species. Its communication system is very similar to that of the Taiwanese Luciola ficta and the Chinese L. leii.
The larvae of the three Japanese aquatic fireflies possess gills as they lives in water during their larval period. Because of Japan’s abundance in forests and streams it can support aquatic firefly species particularly well.