Entomology Department

Description of Entomology Department (research profile)


The hexapods (insects and their kin), myriapods and arachnids, which are the domain of the Entomology Department, account for the vast majority of species of living organisms, and they play a dominant role in terrestrial and limnic ecosystems. Insects and other terrestrial arthropods attract general attention for many reasons: Some are pests (or just a nuisance), while others are attractive and/or elicit excitement; these animals are also increasingly becoming conservation targets. The Department therefore has regular interaction with applied entomologists and conservation biologists as well as with the general public. Particular emphasis is given to the time-honoured intense and extremely fruitful interaction with the body of knowledgeable amateur entomologists within Denmark, and increasingly also abroad. Citizens and/or employees in EU member and associated states interested in visiting the entomological collections at the Natural History Museum of Denmark are encouraged to apply for funding through the SYNTHESYS programme (please consult http://www.zmuc.dk/synthesys/ for further information)

The departmental staff, students and associates are involved in studies at all levels in the phylogenetic hierarchy. In addition to the systematic core activities of revisionary taxonomy, departmental research has three foci:

High-rank phylogeny of terrestrial arthropod taxa, drawing on a broad suite of characters spanning molecular data, traditional morphology and the 'soft anatomy' not otherwise routinely studied in collections-based entomological systematics.

Historical biogeography of terrestrial arthropods: patterns and analytical procedures.

Biodiversity patterns: local/regional patterns of species richness of terrestrial arthropods, and the methodology for elucidating those patterns.

Since 1989 research in the Entomology Department has been substantially enhanced through successive 'frame grants' from the Danish Natural Science Research Council. Furthermore, all the current members of the scientific staff are involved in different Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) projects under the US National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2003/nsf03536/nsf03536.htm). The AToL programme supports a number of projects aiming to produce robust phylogenies of major sections of organismic diversity. Each programme strives to secure contributions from leading systematic researchers in their respective fields all over the world.

AToL participation in the Entomology Department

Niels Peder Kristensen (Lepidoptera): LepTree (http://leptree.net/)

Thomas Pape (Diptera): FLYTREE (http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/cee/FLYTREE/index.html)

Nikolaj Scharff (Aranae): Phylogeny of Spiders (http://research.amnh.org/atol/files/)

Lars Vilhelmsen (Hymenoptera): HymAToL (http://www.hymatol.org/index.html)


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Last update: 11 September 2006

Responsible Web-editor for Entomology Department: Nikolaj Scharff