Impact of the Project
Besides its importance for biological control which is well-documented (Rosen 1994, Rosen and DeBach 1979), Aphytis are used for basic studies on insect behavior and ecology (e.g., Luck & Uygun 1986, Steinberg et al. 1994, van Lenteren 1994), pesticide resistance and genetic improvement (e.g., Cohen et al., 1994; Spollen et al., 1994; Havron & Rosen 1994), and faunistics, systematics and phylogeny (e.g., Hayat 1994, Prinsloo & Neser 1994, Viggiani 1994, Woolley et al. 1994). The Department of Entomology at UCR has a historical strength in insect parasitoid research and Aphytis in particular. The late Professor DeBach was the initiator of studies of Aphytis in Riverside and currently at least three faculty members at UCR (Drs. Robert Luck, Joseph Morse and Daniel Hare) are involved in Aphytis research. Cultures of many Aphytis spp. are being maintained at the UCR insectary.
Despite obvious success in recently developed methods such as molecular systematics, the identification of Aphytis species is still largely based on morphological characters. Correct species identification of Aphytis is impossible without a quality collection. A direct impact of this project would be availability of the type and other identified material of many economically important species of Aphytis for comparison and study. The UCR collection of Aphytis contains 87 of the 105 known species in the genus and also has thousands of unidentified specimens. According to Rosen (1994), it is probable that several times the known species of Aphytis await discovery and our collection is an invaluable source of yet undescribed forms. The availability of freshly curated material may also act as a stimulus for new taxonomic work. The historic condition of the collection was a major impediment to future research on the taxonomy of Aphytis simply because of the magnitude of the problem facing any new researcher interested in the group. Voucher specimens for the quarantine and insectary cultures are irreplaceable. If urgent measures were not taken, this important collection would soon have been be lost to the scientific community.
The scientific community will clearly benefit from this project through access to well-curated material, distribution of the numerous paratypes to major taxonomic collections of the world, and protection of an irreplaceable collection. The distribution of specimens is critical for the identification of specimens on a worldwide scale. Unfortunately the keys of Rosen and DeBach (1979) are difficult to use without determined material. Currently, identified specimens of Aphytis in the collections at UCR and USNM probably account for 90-95% of the identified slide-mounted Aphytis material in the world.