Henry Hespenheide

Professor Emeritus
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
BOT 129
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Keywords: Costa Rica

Research Interests

My research focuses on insects, and the 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. Most current field work is in Costa Rica. Specific projects include the following:

The insect fauna of the La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica: Systematic collecting and ecological sampling are being 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.

Taxonomy and ecology of leaf-mining beetles: In addition to more descriptive studies, I am using 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, I am particularly impressed by the frequency of parasitoids as visitors to nectaries and wonder about their importance to such systems.