The Unit Tray System

20 August 2017

The Unit Tray System is one method of organizing and sorting your collections in collection drawers. Using small trays, you can categorize and group specimens. Many research institutes use this unit tray system. To help your understanding, let’s say, you took numerous images of insects including beetles, butterflies, flies, bees, and ants. You will have to make folders per their taxons and save each files into appropriate folders, right? This is somewhat a ‘sorting,’ and this is what you can apply to insect collections as well.

In the United States and Canada, the Unit Tray System is what basically used, and applied in many institutions and private collections. I started using after I entered college, majoring entomology just because I didn’t have many different taxon until then. Although I only collect and keep scarab beetles, I now have many different species, so I’m still using this system. Here I’m explaining the general purpose of using the system, and discusses the pros and cons.

PURPOSE
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Sorting per species, per groups…
Generally, you sort the specimens per species/subspecies in the single unit tray to separate and organize the specimens per ‘what they are.’ Sometimes, when there aren’t many numbers of species or having difficulty of determining the species level, you can group them in a single tray as Genus spp. or Family spp.

PROS
You can easily and safely (to specimens) move around the specimens to different spot or drawers, and you can always add more specimens of same species already deposited in the middle of the drawer.
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If you keep and organize as above in the picture, and when you want to add more specimens of what you already have, you will have to move each specimen away to make a space. For example, if you want to add couple of more Lamprima sp. (green), you will have to move those three Aegus laevicollis (black) and Dynastes tityus (yellow) away to make enough space. However, if you are using the unit tray system as image below…
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You can easily add more specimens in the drawer without a fuss of moving specimens around. In other words, it is convenient to add more specimens of what you already have and to sort specimens. You always keep the close taxon together for scientific collections, so you can easily add new species into the drawer. For example, Dorcus titanus sspp.(Coleoptera: Lucanidae) has a lot of subspecies and when you want to add more you can easily move around the unit trays to make enough space for the new trays. No worry to damage the specimen while handle them and it is very convenient.

CONS
Trays use up spaces.
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If you don’t use the unit tray system, and just pin down the specimen into the drawer, you can have 30 Dynastes tityus males like in the image above. However, if you use unit tray system as image below…
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because of the walls created by those unit trays, you are lacking enough space to place the specimens.

Recommend unit tray system if…
you are collecting many different species and groups, and always having more and more specimens as time passes. If you are collecting on your own, yes.

Do no recommend unit tray system if…
you don’t collect many different species or specimens are not added up, the unit tray system won’t be useful. If you only keep one species in a drawer, then unit tray system is useless, unless you sort them in different purpose, like per size, per gender, etc.

*I will promptly update the post for additional information.

Getting Buggy at Kent Plantation House

2017.06.03.

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The 10th annual Getting Buggy at *Kent Plantation House is held this morning, in Alexandria, Louisiana. I heard about this public insect exhibition last year, when the event is completed, so I was waiting to visit this time, the 10th. The even is supported by The USDA US Forestry Service at Southern Research Center.

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*Kent Plantation House: the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana, listed,  since 1971, in the National Register Historic Places, is located in Alexandria in Rapides Parish.

I found out Steven Barney, a host for Bugstock in Louisiana is also there as a host, so I made a contact ahead of time to meet him there. The event was larger than I expected. People at the booth, mostly, knew what they were explaining to visitors in their view point, especially for the kids.

Lots of stuffs were there, from a booth explaining different bees to entomophagy, honey bees, different type of many things.

Steven Barney (in white t-shirt) at the The Beetle Experience, showing beetles.

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There were lots of different animals as well, and not just insects or arthropods. I saw many reptiles, especially the geckos and snakes. Baby alligator in the picture above.

Couple of collection drawers displayed as well. I usually see a lot of large neotropical scarabs or Atlas Moth of Asia in such public exhibition, however, this event focused on insects that can be found in Louisiana, which was very nice thing to show that they are around us.

It was interesting event for the local people as many insects displayed in this event and explained were mostly found from Louisiana.

Visiting Louisiana State Arthropod Museum

2017.05.23.

To obtain samples of beetles and collection data including locality and date of collection occurred, I made a visit to Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, as a visiting scientist. I made an appointment to visit the museum with museum director Dr. Christopher Carlton and curator Dr. Victoria Bayless ahead of time.

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(A route from home to the museum. 126 miles, about 2 hours of driving)

Drove about 2 hours, and finally, arrived in LSU-Baton Rouge campus. The weather condition wasn’t great, but fortunately, there were not much of rainfall on the way.

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Part of scarab collections I examined while I was staying in the museum.

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A portrait of myself, examining specimens. (photo taken by graduate student working in there).

It took about six hours to finish my work and get over with. It was sad to be unable to enjoy the time and relax in the collection room. I was too busy with the work. Maybe on my next visit…

Visiting Chungnam National University

2017.04.06.

I visited Junggon Kim, a PhD candidate at Chungnam National University (CNU) located in Daejeon Metropolitan City of South Korea, studying systematics of Miridae (Hemiptera). We’ve been knowing each other for about or over 10 years now. Couple of years back, he requested me to collect some nearctic Miridae samples, and I gladly accepted to collect and send them to him. As I’m visiting South Korea this time, I decided to personally bring  the collections to him and meet with at his lab. As the place I’m staying is quite far away from CNU, I had to take an intercity bus (similar to Greyhound of the U.S., that goes across the cities and states), taking about 3 hours of total trip to get there.

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10,000 won in Korea is about $10 in the USD. It took about two hours just for the intercity bus, and about an hour from my place to the intercity bus station at Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

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Finally, after three hours, I arrived at the CNU at Daejeon Metropolitan City of South Korea. This is my very first visit to this city, honestly, and didn’t really realize this city is very urban-like. I never really been to elsewhere from Seoul in my childhood, so I don’t know much about other places. With a wrong bus after arriving to Daejeon Metropolitan City, I dropped off at the main entrance of CNU, I had to walk like 0.7 miles, and as it took some time to get to the building we decided to meet, Junggon came to pick me up with his car. The building that we were suppose to meet was the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which is located far back in the campus, takes about a mile to get there from the front entrance.

As I found out the very last intercity bus which would take me back to my place departs at 9PM, and I arrived there at CNU on 6PM, we really had to be quick about everything. I met Junggon Kim (PhD candidate) and Hangyeol Ji (MS student, Tingidae). Ji is a current manager of online web community, 곤충사육필살기 (gon-choong-saa-yook-feel-sal-gii, meaning super technique to rear insects), housing over five thousand members. The community page has lots of adult-members compares to other communities so this page is very well sorted, with lots of well-mannered members, which is why I’m also a member there.

Right after I met these two, we went to have a dinner together. Then two current undergraduate students named Jaedong Kim (microlepidoptera) and Jihoon Kim (Scarabaeidae) came over to the restaurant. I’ve been knowing these two from other web communities, and they are very knowledgeable students working toward getting entomology degrees. As they happened to be there in CNU, I decided to meet them as well.

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Their collection room was quite messy as they were keep updating things. Junggon showed me around and explained why the place is quite messy and drawers are not sorted very well. He says Their new collections are separately sorted and maintained as fluid collections for the DNA extraction. All the dried specimens here are from old time with past advisers/professors. Still, there were A LOT of dried collections.

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It was interesting as there were lots of public display collections as well as bunch of mixed up butterflies, beetles, and other things. Some are labeled and some are not, but still mixed up altogether. Kim says everyone is busy as well as professors so no one really go back to the collection room to sort things to here and there. Lots of specimens were donated from the students took entomology lectures and labs, so some of them were in bad conditions as well.

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From the left to right: Jihoon Kim (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), Jaedong Kim (micro moth), Junsuk Kim (author), Hangyeol Ji (Hemiptera: Tingidae), Junggon Kim (Hemiptera: Miridae).

As the time closed by to 9PM, I had to hurry and leave the CNU. Thankfully, Junggon Kim gave me a quick ride to the intercity bus station so I wasn’t late, and I returned to home at around 12PM. Although it was very short trip to CNU, I enjoyed my time with good people there.

Visiting the National Institute of Biological Resources

2017.04.05.

National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR) is an institute located in Incheon, South Korea, housing a great number of natural resources collections, working towards conservations of species, and many other projects. This was my second visit since the summer 2015, with small collections donation. Dr. Taewoo Kim, once again welcomed me with couple of other researchers of NIBR.

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Dr. Taewoo Kim told me as he got a meetings, I will have to go to his office at Department of Animal Resources, and wait for him. (Last time, he picked me up at the first floor of Research and Management Building)

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As I was an outsider to this institute, I had to wear this visitor’s pass. Two other researchers (Dr. Hong-Yul Seo and Dr. Tae Hwa Kang) welcomed me in, and Dr. Kang showed me around the collections room once again.

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Their cabinets were interesting, as they have to steer(?) each handle to move around the cabinets and access the drawers. I think it saves a great space.

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He also showed me how my last donations are sorted. At first, these were sorted together with Korean species, but as these aren’t the collections which always come in and added, the Dr. Kang said, any non Korean specimens are sorted separately from Koreans.

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Last time, I visited on Monday, which is a holiday for Exhibit & Education Building, so I did not get a chance to look around, but this time, Dr. Kang showed me around entire place and explained lots of things. I think this place has great collections even to the public. Then, we enjoyed a lunch with Dr. Taewoo Kim, and went couple of other lab rooms to meet many other researchers.

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As a gift to donors, I received two aspirators for different types of insect collecting from NIBR. I met couple of people I knew from the Internet as well. Also, as an appreciation to donors, there is this screen at first floor lists the donors and their information. (image below)

20170405_130535It is written in Korean, but it says my name, Junsuk Kim and the affiliation at the time of donation, which was University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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From left to right: Dr. Tae Hwa Kang(Coleoptera: Cantharidae), Junsuk Kim(Author), and Dr. Taewoo Kim(Orthoptera). A Young Kim (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae, Behind camera).

I’m really appreciated to visit there with a great welcome and advice with gifts, thank you all.

Visiting the Seoul National University

03 April 2017

Seoul National University (SNU) is a national research university located in Seoul, South Korea. It is the most prestigious university in the country. There are three campuses with main one located in Gwanak, Seoul.

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Jang, H., S. Lee, and W. Choi. 2015. Cerambycidae of Korea. Geobook, Seoul, South Korea. 399 pp.

I visited Seunghyun Lee, a PhD candidate of systematic of entomology, focusing on family Cerambycidae, at Seoul National University. He has published number of journal papers and a book of all the known Cerambycidae species occurring in South Korea with his colleagues, Hyunkyu Jang and Woong Choi. I brought him a gift of nearctic Cerambycidae in both dried collections and fluid collections for him to work on DNA sequencing. And then he treated me a nice, warm dinner with a tour to his laboratory. The purpose of visit is to meet Seunghyun Lee in person as well as to see how insect collections are housed in SNU.

_DSC5220This is how the entrance of SNU looks like. There is a big structure (partially shaded by tree on right). (Photo taken in June 2015).

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An image of collection room. The collection cabinets can be moved by door handle there. You will have to rotate it to access each cabinets. It seems it can save a lot of space, except it would be difficult to have many different people to work on their own things.

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Scarab drawers.

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Drawers had hooks to lock them up, which I’ve seen it couple of times.

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This room here is for graduate students to work on their research. This room had photographing equipment and the equipment for DNA molecular works.

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His photography were amazing, and says he just works in this set up, with StackShot device connected to the camera with electronic macro slide.

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From left to right: Seunghyun Lee, Junsuk Kim(author), Jinbae Seung(Eucneimidae, Histeridae), Minhyeuk Lee

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From left to right: Seunghyun Lee(Cerambycidae), Junsuk Kim(author), Jinbae Seung(Eucneimidae, Histeridae), Minhyeuk Lee(Scarabaeinae), Minseok Oh(Miridae). Sunghyeok Nam (Platygastridae, behind the camera).

I’m not completely sure whether the spellings of their names are correct as I only converted their Korean names to English pronunciation. I will update as I find out their names in English in future.

Korea Trip 2017 – Prologue

27 March 2017 – 25 April 2017

I had a trip to South Korea for about a month for my personal reasons, and then entomological businesses there. I planned and made appointments to visit institutions including Seoul National University (Seoul, South Korea), Chungnam National University (Daejeon Metropolitan City, S. Chungcheong, South Korea), National Institute of Biological Resources (Incheon, South Korea), and Seoul-forest (Seoul, South Korea). Also I made a visit to insect museums of Chungwoo Insectarium, Manchun Insectarium, and insect shop Insect Harmony.

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I got this many, about 600 or more collections of pinned, papered and fluid collections for donations to each institute.

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I departed from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) at Houston, Texas, and arrived in Incheon International Airport (ICN) at Incheon, South Korea.

DSC07424It was about 14-15 hours of flight with a little bit of turbulence. It was fine flight compares to past flight I had. I will only post about my visits to three institutes of:

Seoul National University
National Institute of Biological Resources
Chungnam National University

*Click them, you will redirected to each visit in a new tab.

How to carefully package pinned insect collections

2017.03.14.

Many, including amateur collectors has discussed how to carefully package unpinned (not pinned) collections on a cardboard with plastic wrapper. (a.k.a. papered specimen). In this post, I’ll discuss how to carefully package ‘pinned’ collections.

You will need followings:
-hard box
-plastazote foam for floor (or any dense foam, Styrofoam, etc.)
-plastazote foam for lid (or any dense foam, Styrofoam, etc.)

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Place and glue the foam into the box.

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Then place the specimen inside the box.

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Use pins to hold the specimen side to side, so they won’t spin or move around upon the possible impact.

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Like this. Place pins outer the legs, if legs are very close to the body. If you place pins between legs and body, legs may be detached on impact.

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This red mark here is a estimated distance from the top of pin head to the top of box. You will have fill up this space to hold down the pins from jumping or swing.

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A plastazote foam, Styrofoam, or any other dense foam can be used as well as multiple layers of cushioning paper or plastic wraps. corrugated paper box is good choice as well for shockproof and can easily be obtained.

DSC07146It would be nice to write down a list of specimens packaged inside for the ones who receive it.

Cross-posted in following page (in Korean) at http://bgjkim.blog.me/220958393384
Contents may be slightly differ for the appropriate readers.

Golofa clavigera clavigera (Linnaeus, 1771) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae)

Golofa clavigera clavigera (Linnaeus, 1771)
Scarabaeus claviger Linnaeus, 1771 (original combination).
Scarabaeus hastatus Fabricius, 1781 (synonym).
Scarabaeus subgrundator Voet, 1806 (synonym).
Golofa puncticollis Thomson, 1860 (synonym).

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Description: Golofa clavigera clavigera (Linnaeus) is a type species of genus Golofa, occurring in wide ranges including French Guiana, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. G. clavigera clavigera is very common among the Golofa species. Its biology has not yet been studied. Identification information can be found in Cespesdes and Ratcliffe (2010), Endrödi (1985), and Hwang (2011).

References:

Cespesdes, A. A. and B. C. Ratcliffe. 2010. Golofa clavigera (Linnaeus, 1771) in Bolivia: a new country record (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae, Dynastinae). Ecologia en Bolivia 45(1): 73–76.

Endrödi, S. 1977. Monographie der Dynastinae (Coleoptera) 6. Tribus: Dynastini. II. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 23: 37-86.

Hwang, S.-M.-R. 2011. The Dynastini of the World (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Dynastinae). Nature and Ecology (Academic Series), Volume 4. Seoul, South Korea. 368 pp.

Kim, J. 2016. Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles-Scarabaeidae-Dynastinae-Dynastini-Golofa. (URL: http://museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Guide/Scarabaeoidea/Scarabaeidae/Dynastinae/Dynastinae-Tribes/Dynastini/Golofa/Golofa.html). In: B.C. Ratcliffe and M.L. Jameson (eds.), Generic Guide to New World Scarab Beetles (URL: http://www-museum.unl.edu/research/entomology/Guide/Guide-introduction/Guideintro.html).