Entomology Field Course
This website was originally organized and constructed as part of an entomology field course (Tropical Insect Systematics, OEB 156r) in the Dominican Republic led by Professor Brian D. Farrell (Harvard Professor of Biology and Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology) in alternate spring semesters.
Courses in insect systematics traditionally require students to make collections of local insect species to gain familiarity with the techniques of collecting, mounting, labeling and identifying insects to family level. This course focuses these activities using the latest digital technology in an collaborative effort aimed at documenting and conserving biodiversity in a tropical setting-- the Dominican Republic. The field portion of the course takes place over Harvard's spring break and is preceded by six weeks of laboratory study of insect biology and classification. The students are also assigned in teams to particular insect groups (e.g., beetles, moths, wasps) and digitize technical literature for use in the Dominican Republic (see Taxonomic Literature).The field course is taught with colleagues from the Departmento de Entomologia of the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (MNHN) in Santo Domingo and is based at the extraordinary field station in Punta Cana where state-of-the-art technology permit students to pursue service learning opportunities in the cause of biodiversity studies and conservation.
The trip comprises eight days of intense collecting of insects, and is intercalated with lectures and sessions for preparation of the collected insect material for data entry and image capture.
Once back in Cambridge, the Harvard students work on production of field guides and posters using the digital images and information from the specimens in the database produced by the Dominican students in Santo Domingo.
Farrell in Bugdom: More on studies in the Dominican Republic
Over the next five years, it is anticipated
that this project will result in the first near-complete online
searchable atlas, together with maps and images, of the insect
fauna of any country, especially timely with today's focus
on biodiversity hotspots and inventory of the planet's biota.