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 Post subject: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:31 pm 
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I was reading posts in the "New Mexican blonde" thread from May and Darrin made an excellent point in his reply.

He said that if AMNH ever got around to studying the DNA of these then maybe the ball could get rolling on the systematics and taxonomy of the mygalomorph family Theraphosidae. He is absolutely correct in his assessment of the situation. Not to mention that Brent has an interest in doing some of the systematic work, although he is up to his armpits in ctenizids!

When Andrew Smith started publishing his books on the tarantulas of North America, he let loose a can of worms, but in a good way in retrospect. Although many theraphosid researchers and arachnologists in general scoffed at it, at least he made a strong effort to do Something about it, regardless of the quality of the first book and the problems it might have caused. But it also gave researchers something to do, if not to synonymize everything in there (is Aphonopelma hollyi actually A. hentzi? etc....) or at least to validate it or find out if he was on the right track (what really IS A. hentzi anyway!?).

Anyway, the topic here is "AMNH needs to do a DNA study/revision on Ts."
OK, well, while in Mexico we collected and pickled every spider we found, or could catch, including Ts, for future DNA analysis.

But this is where YOU, the Hobbyists, the Enthusiasts, the people who probably know more about theraphosid taxonomy than do actual arachnologists, come in.

In order to have a DNA database, one must provide specimens with good data, who, what, where, when, and how collected. The specimens must be received alive to ensure that proper preservation techniques are followed. (Reagent grade 95% or higher ethanol is a controlled substance, I can't get it in my own lab that has concentrated acids/bases and other chemicals!) But, most importantly, someone needs to actually get out there and do the collecting, knowing that the chances for them to receive payment for gas, shipping, time spent in the field, etc., are remote at best, especially if your day has been spent in futility (just ask Darrin!!!). No one at this moment has a grant to do the analysis through which to pay anyone, but if a flood of specimens begins to arrive at AMNH then maybe one of those knuckleheads will get the message to write a grant proposal for the task.

But the need is there, and there are people there at the AMNH (American Museum of Natural History) and the California Academy of Sciences (talk to Warren at the Conference) who will more than gladly process your specimens for the DNA "banks".

If you are interested in this idea, collecting and sending Ts to the AMNH or CalAcad for the DNA banks, then drop me an email (not private message here at atshq) and I will send you information to get 'r done.

BTW, there is currently research like this going on with scorpions. That's a hint.


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:20 pm 
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Kari,

Sounds like something we should all be involved in. There isn't tarantula one around here to collect but if a planned Missouri trip is successful then maybe we can help. Please keep us informed if you can. Also, please accept our gratitude for taking the first step on a probable long, long road. Good luck!



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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:44 pm 
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This sounds like a very interesting project. I live in Canada so unfortunately I can't help. I do take holidays to the USA every now and then so maybe I could do something then?? I would be more than willing to donate some money to a research fund if ATS created one to help people with expenses for this work (shipping, containers etc.) provided they didn't use the trips for other commercial purposes at the same time.



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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:08 pm 
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There's research going on as far as Brachypelma and Brachypelmides spp DNA and their genetic relations here in Canada at a university near my house.


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:22 pm 
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This is actually my life's calling! And I would love to build my future research program around this very thing!

I have accumulated a lot of specimens over the years, but unfortunately, I cannot get DNA from most of them because I received them before I knew what to do with them... but now is a different story!

I have been dinking around with Aphonopelma for a long time (yes, I still need to describe the thing from Carlsbad), and I do know of a few folks working on their molecular systematics (just don't know if it will ever be published). I plan to do a pilot study this summer with some material I already have, but I am in desperate need of fresh material from all over the place. In particular, I need the little guys: paloma, mojave, joshua, behlei, marxi.

I will be writing up a grant this fall to work on these guys, and I need collaborators (at least in the field). If it's funded, it will be a spring board for many cool things to come.

And by the way, Kari, I don't really work with ctenizids (I've been working on antrodiaetids)... but I might do a little work with Cyclocosmia this summer. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 11:42 pm 
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Brent wrote:
This is actually my life's calling! And I would love to build my future research program around this very thing!


I was wondering when you were gonna find this post! I wrote it just for you, y'know. :cool:


Brent wrote:
I will be writing up a grant this fall to work on these guys, and I need collaborators (at least in the field). If it's funded, it will be a spring board for many cool things to come.


I'll bet you can get plenty of field workers on this list!!!

[quote="Brent"]And by the way, Kari, I don't really work with ctenizids (I've been working on antrodiaetids)... but I might do a little work with Cyclocosmia this summer. ]

Yeah yeah.... I know (really I don't, but hey)... maybe we can talk about it all in... are you ready... MONTERREY! There is a good chance I'm going! So, if I go, we might all need to pack pretty lightly, and like Jarvis did last August, wear the same clothes throughout the trip!

Also, we can get more Ts and hopefully other mygallies.
kj


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 3:09 am 
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I am certainly willing to help in any way that I can. This goes for scorpions or other arachnids as well. I travel throughout Utah and into some of the surrounding states.

Is it only DNA samples that are needed? If so, does the entire specimen need to be collected?

Hopefully more can be done before prohibitive laws are enacted.

Let me know what I can do.

Brian Nielsen


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:17 pm 
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Brian Nielsen wrote:
Is it only DNA samples that are needed? If so, does the entire specimen need to be collected?


Yes, it is common practice to have the entire specimen; it's important to have a voucher specimen that is associated with a given DNA sequence. I am interested in any and all mygalomorph taxa, less interested in scorpions (but they are still way up on the list -- however, they should be sent to the AMNH).

As long as the specimens have solid locality data associated with them, they are perfect for research.


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:19 pm 
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Kari McWest wrote:
Yeah yeah.... I know (really I don't, but hey)... maybe we can talk about it all in... are you ready... MONTERREY! There is a good chance I'm going! So, if I go, we might all need to pack pretty lightly, and like Jarvis did last August, wear the same clothes throughout the trip!

Also, we can get more Ts and hopefully other mygallies.
kj


Ahhh, so you're going to go? The trip is going to be a blast! I guess you're all going to pick me up in San Antonio on July 16th. There is an undergrad going to, right?

I'll probably be more interested in collecting spiders than scorpions! :D But, I guess I'll do what I'm supposed to considering it's a free trip to Mexico!


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 5:22 pm 
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Kari McWest wrote:
But it also gave researchers something to do, if not to synonymize everything in there (is Aphonopelma hollyi actually A. hentzi? etc....) or at least to validate it or find out if he was on the right track (what really IS A. hentzi anyway!?).


Well, apparently, A. hentzi is only found in Oklahoma... (but I don't necessarily believe that)

There is a gal at Kansas State (Elizabeth Murray) working on the A. hentzi complex, so I hope her results get published. She's doing a morphological/molecular assessment of the group and her preliminary findings sound promising.

There are so many interesting questions within theraphosids, and in Aphonopelma in particular. I just need more specimens!!! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:00 pm 
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Again, it's IF I go to Mecca-co! Be crossing your fingers. If you don't, and I don't go, then I'm posting your Goofy photo, Brent!

Elizabeth Murray, eh? Does she really know what she's dealing with? I mean, apperently, there is no locality data with the type specimen, and is there a type specimen???

Brian: SCORPIONS, SCORPIONS, Brian SCORPIONS! Forget them tarantulas.... who needs 'em.:D Oh, Hi Brent...didn't see you there.:eek:

Yes, all critters must be RECEIVED intact and alive, unless you have an "ultra" freezer and access to 95-100 % reagent grade ethanol! (you just might, I dunno.) Brent (apparently :rolleyes: ) has a lab in which he can do these things, so forget AMNH and CalAcad for mygalamorphs. Scorpions, on the other hand, can be sent to me, or CalAcad, or AMNH. I am assembling photographs of the specimens, and would ship them off to the AMNH.


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:35 pm 
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Yes, I'm sure Elizabeth knows what she's doing with the A. hentzi complex... I suspect that she's finding out that the characters used to diagnose the different species are highly variable within and between populations... there is some chance that there are multiple species, but we need the corroborative evidence.

I haven't read Smith's revision in a really long time, but if memory serves me correctly, he designated a neotype for A. hentzi (or maybe he didn't)... at any rate, it's not a trivial problem. It's a completely open area for research and I can imagine a single genus consuming one's career. I'm interested in all theraphosids, but if things go my way, I will probably only work on a handful of groups -- starting with Aphonopelma.

I have some higher-level phylogeny questions that I'm interested in, but I am more interested in population/species-interface sorts of questions. I'm going to need some grad students! :D


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:50 am 
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Brian Nielsen wrote:
I am certainly willing to help in any way that I can. This goes for scorpions or other arachnids as well. I travel throughout Utah and into some of the surrounding states.

Is it only DNA samples that are needed? If so, does the entire specimen need to be collected?

Hopefully more can be done before prohibitive laws are enacted.

Let me know what I can do.

Brian Nielsen



I talk occasionally with board members of the wildlife division and it seems that for things such as a theraphosid taxonomic study a few specimens may be permitable to collect with permission. Although these regulations may come unoticed, strict, and serious. Mainly with theraphosids. Time will tell.
Its will hopefully create a safety net for some endangered aggregations that come to mind.

Zach



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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:25 am 
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Be careful what you wish for. From my experience, the UDWR can be very peculiar when it comes to non-game animals. The reptile and amphibian laws are pretty messed up. Studies of our native herps have been stifled by the laws.

The UDWR is bipolar in my opinion. There is the game animals side and the non-game animals side. The game side caters very much to the tax and fee paying mega group of hunters and fishers. Even if a policy is found to be harmful to Utah natives, it may still persist if stopping such a practice would offend the hunters/fishers. It seems that game animals have more protection then any native that is not federally protected. Even if the game animal is non-native!

On the other hand the non-game side of the UDWR is like the conservation biologist's last stand. They realize that they can't force their precautionary principle on the game animal laws. It truly seems as though many have the opinion that no animal should be kept as a pet. I think you will find that if they become interested in making laws for invertebrates, that some of these will include hands off type of verbage. Relocating imperilled animals will not be allowed without three months of debate by division biologists. Your permit will also take some time to be decided on.

Will it even deter those that would do harm? The UDWR is already stretched thin for funds to enforce the existing laws. Is there really a problem? And are laws the best solution?

Just my two cents. I am not impressed with the reptile and amphibian laws. They are full of hypocrisy.

Brian Nielsen


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:45 am 
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Beleive me Brian i know,
you would be surprised (or maybe not) at how much trouble they give James Dix from wasatch reptile rescue. Even though he has permits for everything he has. We just had a big ordeal with some small American alligators that came up.
When i brought up regulations about collecting this type of stuff, i was awnsered by a remark saying that a proclamation* was already in the begining stages. And yes they will be strict and quick to act. They most likely would destroy specimens if found in peoples collections.


Zach



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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:59 am 
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The way that they treat James is a perfect example. It is a d--- joke the way that they handle certain situations.

I don't know how much James was involved with that operation slither, but that operation was messed up to say the least. And in at least one case they took several animals as evidence and they have let them die. They hadn't even proven any wrong doing. I would be all about counter suite.

If you are pushing for such regulations, I am saying that it may not be the wisest choice and there are always unintended consequences. If they are heading in that direction already without any outside pressure, then the best thing to do is to try to be a part of the process. I would be happy to assist in anyway that I can.

Brian Nielsen


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:23 am 
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i brought up the idea, and then was told that it was already in progress.
So some one had already thought of this, invertebrate regulations are suppose to get bad. Like i said prim. with theraphosids.
I guess right now if i where to drive into Utah with a WC tarantula, i would have to get a vet to do a health check on the animal and pass it. With my own money none the less. You can obviously see the problems in that.
Thats just another example of what s**t heads these guys can be.

I'm well aware of what problems can/may come in our future of invertebrate study. I brought the idea up after having problems with people collecting in areas of low density. And/or collecting TOO MUCH. For example if someone where to collect four or five scorpions from a Serradigitus site i observed weekly, that would be a major percentage of the localized population. The same goes for a specific V. "confusus complex" site i have mapped out. Most A. iodium aggregations around the salt lake and cedar valley are worse. I still have alot of sampleing to do around northern/western Utah. There must be areas with higher density and less specific localization. None the less in alot of areas i find, two tarantulas taken out can make a bad deal for the general growth potential.

Zach



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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:19 pm 
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Can we not set up funding for this project?


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:38 am 
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Well stated, Steve, but don't forget that as more research is done in this field (DNA sequencing) the more we know how to utilize the characters. I will tell you though, that I am not a well-qualified phylogeneticist, I am a systematist/taxonomist. Brent, however, having received his Ph.D. under the guidance of Jason Bond, probably does know about that paper! (I'll have to hit him up for it!)

I am not involved in the DNA portion of the Vaejovidae Revision (REVSYS http://www.vaejovidae.com), but I am involved in revising a complex within the Vaejovis mexicanus group, and possibly others as time presses on. My part will be largely morphological, as they fell I have a knack for "seeing things". The DNA and morphological analyses will complement each other, as you might well know.

Thanks for the insight!


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 Post subject: Re: Theraphosid systematics: DNA Analysis
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:42 am 
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alpha rosea wrote:
Can we not set up funding for this project?


Brent will be writing a grant proposal in the not-too-distant future. Our tax dollars hard at work! And for a GOOD cause!


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