Deep Arthropod Phylogeny Project

Most animal species are arthropods. The phylum is represented in nearly all environments, has extraordinary diversity, and includes insects, spiders, horseshoe crabs, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, crabs, shrimp, pill bugs, trilobites, and many others. However, today we still do not understand the basic relationships among the major groups, nor are we certain that these groups are monophyletic.

During this 5-year NSF Biocomplexity in the Environment grant we will be sequencing 120 targeted nuclear coding-region sequences to resolve the three major lineages (Chelicerata, Myriapoda, Pancrustacea) of arthropods. Our goal is to resolve relationships and monophyly of crustacean classes and to resolve the relationship of the Hexapoda (incl. insects) to the remainder of the Pancrustacea.

A multidisciplinary team from Duke University (C. W. Cunningham), University of Maryland (J. C. Regier and J. W. Shultz), North Carolina State University (J. L. Thorne), University of Tokyo (H. Kishino), and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (J. W. Martin and R. Wetzer) is addressing the organismal, genetic, and statistical aspects of the project. Martin and Wetzer's role includes selecting and collecting crustacean taxa to appropriately address these questions.

High school curriculum

As part of a more general educational commitment of the grant, we have designed and taught a high school level curriculum on arthropod phylogeny in conjunction with the Museum's Education Department.

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