A talk by ecologist John Pickering about using photography to explore the biology of moths will be the first in a new series of natural history lectures at the University of Georgia. “Why fly now? Photographing moths at porch lights helps us understand their biology and potential environmental threats,” will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 in the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library auditorium, and is free and open to all. It is sponsored by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History.
The talk coincides with an exhibit featuring rare watercolors from, John Abbot, one of Georgia’s earliest naturalists, part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the James W. Woodruff, Sr. Center for the Natural History of Georgia.
“There is a wondrous diversity of over 2,700 moth species in Georgia,” said Pickering, an associate professor in the Odum School of Ecology and the director of Discover Life, an online encyclopedia of biodiversity. Discover Life’s mothing project is studying how weather patterns, urbanization, and other factors affect insects. Participants have photographed over 500,000 insects in North America and Costa Rica, documenting nightly differences in the activity of over 3,000 species across years and sites. Novel results show how body size of a species can change, how smaller moths are relatively less active than larger moths at colder temperatures, and how moths with larvae that feed on lichens are detrimentally affected by urbanization.
Pickering’s talk will focus on flight seasonality, diapause, pupa banks, latitude and climate change. “We wish to involve the public in the project,” he said. “We are developing Moth Math to teach students how to collect and analyze real-time moth data. Use your cell phone to help us find and map the dark dozen!” More information about the project is at www.discoverlife.org/moth.
There will be a reception prior to the talk.
The Natural History Lecture Series is sponsored by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History, a non-profit organization that supports and advances the mission and programs of the Museum by increasing public awareness, supporting service and outreach programs, fundraising and mobilizing other resources. The Series is co-sponsored by the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Special Collections Libraries.