The course is intended to provide an introduction to the biology and diversity of one of the most important, and certainly the most diverse, groups of organisms. The emphasis is on insects as organisms, especially evolutionary, ecological, and behavioral aspects. The course will also emphasize insect examples of general biological principles, especially in evolution and ecology.
The lectures will be devoted largely to general aspects of insect biology, including morphology, physiology, embryology, behavior, ecology, and evolution. It is impossible to appreciate much of this material without a good familiarity with the diversity of insects, which is in itself one of the major reasons for studying entomology. Therefore, the emphasis of the lab will be on taxonomy: learning many insect groups and their natural history, as well as developing the ability to identify insects. This will require considerable memorization, but is essential, especially for assimilating information on patterns of insect evolution and ecology.
We hope you will obtain from the course an acquaintance with some general principles of biology as illustrated by insects; an appreciation of the rich opportunities for research that insects offer in every realm of biology; some knowledge of the fascinating diversity of insects; and an ability to go out, anywhere and at almost any time, and see the wonderful variety of life with which we share the world.
Early in the course, we will devote lab sessions to field trips. You may use these as opportunities to add specimens to your collection. You should wear long pants and footwear that you are prepared to get wet or muddy. The rest of the labs will be devoted to learning taxa of insects, mostly by keying out specimens provided in the lab; and, as time permits, to work on identifying specimens in your collection using the keys in Borror, Delong, and Triplehorn, An Introduction to the Study of Insects, several copies of which will be available in the lab. You must learn to use the keys in this book; they will be needed for the lab exams.
Grades will be based on insect collection, a group project, midterm and final exams on the lecture material and midterm and final lab practicals. The final lab practical will be the same day as the lecture final.
The Insects: An Outline of Entomology, Gullan, P.J. and P.S. Cranston, et. al. 2nd edition. (Blackwell).
A Field Guide to the Insects, Borror, D.J. and R.E. White. Peterson Field Guide Series. (Houghton Mifflin).