Long-term Sabbatical

Evolution of the Coleoptera: A Paleontological Perspective

PI(s): Dena Smith (University of Colorado)
Start Date: 1-Jul-2011
End Date: 30-Jun-2012
Keywords: macroevolution, paleontology, biodiversity, database, meta-analysis

Beetles are the most species-rich group today, with approximately 350,000 described species. How beetles have become so diverse has been the topic of much investigation. While many have used molecular phylogenetic approaches to study the evolution of the Coleoptera, little work has been done using the fossil record. The first goal of this project is to generate a database of all fossil beetle occurrences from the extensive, international paleontologic and entomologic literature. These data will be made available through the publicly accessible Paleobiology Database (http://paleodb.org) and will serve as a valuable resource for both neontologists and paleontologist who study the evolution of beetles. By synthesizing the fossil beetle literature, it then becomes possible to study the nature of the beetle fossil record itself and to test hypotheses about what has led to the great diversity of modern beetles. In addition to making records of fossil beetle occurrences and their associated meta-data publicly accessible, this project also will include the generation of synthetic manuscripts which focus on an examination of the nature of preservation in the fossil record of beetles and on large-scale patterns of diversification and extinction of Coleoptera through geologic time.