BitB’s Newest Contributor

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time have likely noticed fairly regular participation in the comments sections by one James C. Trager.  Occasionally irreverent and always articulate, his informed quips are among those that I have enjoyed the most.  One can surmise from James’ comments that he knows a thing or two about entomology himself, but to say this would be an understatement!  Like me, James is a passionate entomologist whose scientific interests take him deep into many related fields of natural history study.  Unlike me, James is a formally trained insect taxonomist, specializing in ants (family Formicidae).  He has conducted numerous biogeographical and systematic studies on this group, much of it in the southeastern U.S. (list of publications), and is the current project leader for the Missouri Ants and Illinois Ants pages at (whose ambitious goal is to provide information and high quality color images for each of the ~10,000 known ant species).  James’ deep knowledge of this single taxon, however, does not limit his interest in other insects — singing insects in particular are among his favorites. It is, thus, with great pleasure that I introduce James as the newest BitB contributor.

In fact, James and I have known each other for many years, as we are both based in the St. Louis area.  James is a restoration ecologist at Shaw Nature Reserve, a 2,500-acre ecological preserve located in the Ozark foothills (and just 15 miles from my house).  Originally established by the Missouri Botanical Garden for managed plant collections, its recent focus has shifted to environmental education and ecological research, and James has played a key role in their many ongoing wetland, woodland, prairie and glade (xeric limestone prairie) restoration efforts.  This experience combines with his entomological expertise and extensive travel within the U.S. and abroad (e.g., Ecuador) to give him a breadth of knowledge and perspective achieved by few, and I think you will find his writings most enjoyable.  Look for his first post to appear in the next day or so.

Ted & James in restored woodland at Shaw Nature Reserve. Photo by Madison MacRae.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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10 thoughts on “BitB’s Newest Contributor

  1. Sounds like a great addition to the heretofore team of one. Congratulations, James! I’m looking forward to your participation.

    And aside from the two lens hogs blocking the view, I can’t get over the lush paradise in that second photo. What a gorgeous place! It must be a fantastic smorgasbord of discovery for the two of you.

  2. I’d forgotten about that picture, Ted. Sorry about the lens-hogging, Jason. Chalk it up to the unfinished composition skills of the youthful photographer, Ted’s daughter.

    Indeed, there is a lot of (native herbaceous) greenery on this forest floor, the result of prescribed burning every few years that removes leaf litter and creates a flush of mineral nutrients. The area was burned most recently this fall (Nov. 2009), long before any of the spring ephemerals or even winter annuals start poking out of the cold ground (as we speak for some species), so spring should provide a show this year.

    The down side, all that foliage makes it a bit harder to find tiger beetles and ants!

    • Hard to find tiger beetles nothing! Your prescribed burns have opened up the canopy and made the site a hot spot for the uncommonly encountered Cylindera unipunctata (one-spotted tiger beetle). Hooray for James!

      If Madison can compose photos like that when she (was) 8 yrs old, imagine what she’ll be able to do when she gets older 🙂

  3. Pingback: Look out, world! « Myrmecos Blog

  4. Wow, this is good news!

    Ted might think of this as expanding the breadth of his blog. But we ant people see it for what it really is: a further sign of unassailable progression towards pax formicana.

  5. Hi there fellows

    The orchid in the first photo which James is examining is very interesting. Is this a species which is part of the regeneration project at the Shaw Nature Reserve? Pity you have to burn so often! Whats the effect of fire on long lived species such as Buprestidae larvae and shorter lived species such as butterflies? Any studies being undetaken?

    Best regards, Trevor


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