A comparative study of aposematic coloration in central Florida beetles

Monday, November 17, 2014: 9:00 AM
F149 (Oregon Convention Center)
Ji Min Noh , Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Hojun Song , Department of Biology/ Song Lab, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Coleoptera, commonly known as beetles, is the most diverse order of insects. Populations exhibit great variations in ecological niches, behavior, and morphology. Many species from different families show patterns of conspicuous warning coloration, or aposematism. Recurrent characteristics include striped or checkered patterns of colors red, yellow, or orange in high luminance contrasted with black. Although aposematism is used in classic example of evolution by natural selection, e.g. Mullerian and Batesian mimicry, the occurrence and function of this trait in many organism, including beetles, is not well documented or understood. This study aims to understand the diversity of aposmastic Coleoptera phylogenetically through morphology, to see how this feature has developed or disappeared through evolutionary history. It will also compare life history traits of closely and distantly related beetles that share similar color patterning to address potential overlaps in ecology, environmental preference, and other behavior. Through the use of the University of Central Florida's Stuart M. Fullerton Collection of Arthropods (UCFC), a list of Coleoptera that illustrates aposematic color patterns on a genus and species level will be compiled. Colors will be measured through the spectrophotometer to quantify how similar or different colors are to other beetles. Results may provide insight to the complexity of aposematism and lead to future work investigating the potential for mimicry among these species.