Project Description :
As part of a funded NSF project, students would capture and upload data from specimens in natural history collections. Enormous amounts of data on the distributions of species are locked up on labels in museums, and there is a major push from NSF and other agencies to get these data onto public databases so they can be analyzed and used. This is especially important for understanding historical species ranges and how they are changing due to global climate change, but the data have many other applications in ecology and evolution as well. In the current phase of the project at UMass most of this data will be on scanned images of microscope slide-mounted aphids and scale insects. Information about host plants is especially critical for these insects, and the successful applicant will learn about diversity and nomenclature of plants as well as insects. The project should appeal to students with a strong interest in natural history collections, insects, plants, biodiversity or ecology. Previous knowledge about any of these is helpful but not essential.