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Henry Hespenheide

Professor Emeritus
Department: Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Keywords: Costa Rica

Professor Hespenheide's research has focused on insects, and his variety of projects is united by curiosity about communities and faunas: How many species live in a particular area? What evolutionary pressures do they face? Of these, predator-prey interactions are of special interest, particularly in Costa Rica. Specific projects include the following:

First, the insect fauna of the La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica: Systematic collecting and ecological sampling have been used by the Arthropods of La Selva project (ALAS) in an attempt to determine the species richness of arthropods of a lowland tropical forest site. Inventory of the biodiversity of the tropical regions is one of the largest frontiers of biological research. Costa Rica's Institute Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), a collaborator in the ALAS project, has become a model for faunal inventories. The jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and a subfamily of weevils (Curculionidae, Conoderinae) are my focal groups.

Second, the taxonomy and ecology of leaf-mining beetles: In addition to more descriptive studies, Professor Hespenheide has used these beetles as bioassays of the effectiveness of insect defense of plants bearing extra floral nectaries. Although ants are usually thought of as the protectors of such plants, he is particularly impressed by the frequency of parasitoids as visitors to nectaries and wonders about their importance to such systems.