The rove beetle (family Staphylinidae) subfamily Aleocharinae, which currently comprise over 900 genera and 12,000 species throughout the world, is currently the most taxonomically difficult large group of beetles (Coleoptera). However, aleocharines are abundant, and often dominant, components of the biological diversity of many microhabitats in both temperate and tropical regions throughout the world, and their abundance and diversity suggests that they may have substantial ecological impact. Also, aleocharines have diversified along numerous evolutionary pathways and offer outstanding opportunities for addressing fundamental questions in evolutionary biology and about the origin and modification of behavior, ecological associations, and their roles in ecosystem structure and function and patterns of biological diversity. The ability to take advantage of aleocharines to address these issues is limited by lack of two fundamental levels of knowledge:
• the inability of even the most accomplished staphylinid worker to identify genera and higher taxa of most aleocharines
• the virtual lack of information about evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) of aleocharines, especially at the higher taxonomic levels.
these problems, and to provide for the training of the next generation
of systematists, this project will:
The project outlined will provide access to basic systematics and basal phylogeny that could encourage additional research on the wide variety of aleocharine systematics, evolution and ecology, and the role that these abundant beetles play in ecosystem structure and function, that previously could not be addressed. The training aspects will produce knowledgeable specialists in the Staphylinidae, as well as excellent modern systematists that will be highly competitive for future positions.