The HYM Course
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Course Overview

HYM Course is intended to serve systematists, ecologists, conservation biologists, insect identifiers, museum curators, naturalists, and other biologists whose responsibilities require a greater understanding of hymenopteran biodiversity and the ability to identify wasps, bees, and ants. Please note that while sawflies, woodwasps, bees, and ants are covered in this course to provide a complete view of Hymenoptera, parasitic and predatory wasps are the focus of the course. Historically, participants have varied backgrounds, including graduate students, port identifiers, professors, pest management personnel, and amateur entomologists. The course emphasizes family- and subfamily-level classification and identification and covers all major superfamilies. The information provided is applicable to the global fauna. Lectures include information on phylogenetic relationships, diagnostic features, host use, and behavior. Planned and informal activities in the field are used to teach techniques for sampling hymenopterans and reinforce information on natural history discussed in lecture; laboratory work provides instruction on specimen identification and curation. Information is also presented on equipment/supply vendors, literature, and specialists conducting systematics research on Hymenoptera.

Course Significance

The field of hymenopteran systematics explores the evolutionary relationships and classification of wasps, bees, and ants. It also includes identification of hymenopterans, as well as the development of tools to facilitate identification. Often intertwined in these studies are investigations of natural history, such as oviposition behavior, host-parasitoid-host plant interactions, and host/host plant range. Parasitic wasps play an integral role in regulating arthropod populations. Bees and wasps are essential pollinators and are responsible for pollinating many crops worldwide in addition to pollinating non-crop plants. Plant-feeding wasps can serve as pests that require control or beneficials used for weed biocontrol. This course will (1) enable participants to confidently identify families and subfamilies of Hymenoptera; (2) equip participants with information on classification, biodiversity, and natural history useful in basic and applied projects involving hymenopterans; (3) furnish students with the ability to sample hymenopterans in the field and prepare specimens for examination and deposition into collections as vouchers; (4) facilitate relationships between participants and experts in the field of hymenopteran systematics; and (5) provide sufficient background for participants to continue learning about Hymenoptera.

Background Information

HYM Course is, in part, a continuation of the Parasitic Hymenoptera Training Session (PHTS) that was held semi-annually for over 20 years. The first offering of PHTS was in 1980 and the last (Session XII) was in 2002 at the University of Maryland-College Park. The course was also held in Hawaii, Montana, and Venezuela. The continuation of the course, expanded in 2006 to cover stinging wasps and 2010 to cover bees and ants, was designed to address the need to train biologists in the areas of hymenopteran identification, classification, and natural history and fulfill goals implicit in the completion of the Hymenoptera Assembling the Tree of Life NSF project. The first iteration of HYM Course was held in September 2006 at Southwestern Research Station in Arizona. Subsequently, the course was held at the Punta Cana Center for Sustainability in the Dominican Republic in 2008, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado in 2010, Tovetorp Zoological Research Station in Sweden in 2012, the Eagle Hill Institute in Maine in 2014, and most recently, at CRILAR-CONICET in Argentina. The course will be held biennially at locations throughout the world with the possibility of special offerings as requested.

Participant Acceptance Criteria

Application for HYM Course is open to all individuals interested in Hymenoptera. The instructors select participants based on application materials, which consist of an application form, a paragraph explaining why the applicant wishes to take HYM Course, and a letter from someone with knowledge of the applicant's background in support of their admission to HYM Course. Priority is given to applicants for whom the course would substantially improve their ability to conduct research, teach, or carry out duties pertaining to their job. An entomological background is not required. The course is presented in English and is limited to 20-25 participants depending on venue.

The HYM Course Flyer
The HYM Course Flyer

The Entomological Society of Washington (ESW)

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