Monday, 1 June 2015

GSD profile: Orthoptera Species File Online

Database Authors: María Marta Cigliano and Holger Braun

MM Cigliano: Principal Researcher (CONICET), Associate Professor Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP)

H Braun; Invited Professor, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP)

The orthoptera species file is based at Museo de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (and data management/server at University of Illinois)

The database covers the Order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, katydids, crickets, and related insects), worldwide both living and fossil.  In October 2013 it held 26200 valid species names and 4800 species name synonyms, 8500 taxon synonyms in total.  There are 1860 common names.
Pedellia ancashensis (c) MM Cigliano &
H Braun 2014

The original Orthoptera Species File (OSF) was an eight-volume printed catalogue by Daniel Otte, published 1994–2000. In 1997 Daniel Otte and Piotr Naskrecki posted the first version of Orthoptera Species File Online on the Internet, which contained the data for katydids, including numerous photographs). David Eades started to develop a new version of OSF along with sophisticated software that incorporates many requirements of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Since 2010, addition of most data is done at the Museo de La Plata, relying on Zoological Record and many other sources, as well as the contribution of users. All past and present development is accomplished in cooperation with the Orthopterists’ Society.

Two authors, a programmer, and two students work on the database.

It contains 99.9% of described species, citations to taxonomic references are 90-95% complete, 40% of the species have images, many of them photos of types and live individuals

It is continuously updated and completed, based on publications and information sent by orthopterists.

MM Cigliano’s favorite group are melanopline grasshoppers, because they can be found in a variety of habitats from grasslands at sea level up to high mountain environments. The interest is in the diversity of the Orthoptera group and the evolutionary hypothesis and biological questions that can be extracted based on the knowledge of the different taxonomic groups.

H Braun is fond of “little walking leaves”, leaf-mimicking katydids of neotropical rainforests of the tribe Pterochrozini, which in the future will be treated as subfamily, following findings of a recent molecular phylogeny indicating that they are sister group of all other Tettigoniidae.  General fascination for insects and in particular numerous undescribed katydid species found during an ecological survey in a mountain rainforest of south Ecuador.

Future taxonomy should integrate a cyber-taxonomy infrastructure to facilitate rapid identification of specimens, prepare species descriptions for publications, and make new data readily available on the Internet.

If additional funds were available it would be good to photograph type specimens in as many collections as possible, add additional images of diagnostic characters, collect distribution records to complete maps, travel around to take photographs of live individuals and find new species in unexplored areas.

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