Under the supervision of Professor Quentin Wheeler (see Contributors), researchers in the 'Wheeler Lab' study the comparative morphology (shapes) and taxonomy (classifications) of insects and related arthropods.
The core areas of interest in the lab include:
morphology and taxonomy of Coleoptera (beetles)
associations of beetles with fungi (Mycota) and slime molds (Myxomycetes)
theoretical and philosophical questions related to taxonomy
the role of taxonomy in the exploration, study, and conservation of biodiversity
Graduate and undergraduate students investigate a wide range of taxa, including spiders, flies, butterflies, beetles and others. At various times, students emphasize theoretical and philosophical problems, and a 'total evidence' approach to taxonomic research that incorporates ontogenetic, paleontological, molecular, and behavioral data in addition to comparative morphology.
Among current projects in the Wheeler Lab is the development of a database of fungus/beetle associations for publication and Internet distribution. The database will include a digital library of images of fungus beetles and links to existing libraries of host-fungus images.
Other projects include a monographic revision, or classification, of the beetle tribe Agathidiini (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) of the Western Hemisphere; a comparative morphological and phylogenetic study of the families of Cucujoid beetles; and a preliminary inventory of beetles associated with slime molds in southern temperate forests of Chile.