Currently, two of our projects involve fieldwork, one around Dresden, one in Mexico.
Around Dresden, we aim to get a good picture of the distribution of field crickets and to correlate ecological characteristics of field cricket sites with the occurrence of their diseases. More specifically, we are interested in sexually transmitted diseases. Please get in touch if that sort of things sparks your interest, perhaps coupled with an interest in population genetics (but that’s not necessary).
In Mexico, we work(ed) on cactus-dwelling, blood-sucking bedbug species, Hesperocimex. In the Sonora desert, many of the large Saguaro and Cardon cacti have nest cavities originally created by breeding Gila woodpeckers. Later, these cavities are used by other bird and mammal species, such as purple swallows, ash-throated flycatchers, elf owls, house sparrows, bats or Cliff chipmunks. All of these are potential host for Hesperocimex and we will examine the gut content to genetically identify the host species. We hope to relate this information, and the population size of Hesperocimex in these holes, to the genetic population structure of these bugs.
Also in the Sonora desert, we examined caves that harbour large colonies (thousands of individuals) of Mexican free-tailed bats, aiming to find the most ancestral bedbug species, the huge (2cm long) Primicimex cavernis (see left).
Please get in touch if you are interested in any of these projects.
Other aspects of field work included (from left to right): Western diamondback rattlesnakes Crotalus atrox at cave entrances, beautiful cacti, cactus longhorn beetle Moneilema gigas, and siesta at 40°C (preceded by an incredibly excellent fish meal).