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2nd Place, 2011
David Clarke, Biological Sciences
My research on the taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography of rove beetles (family Staphylinidae) focuses on the evolution of morphology, one aspect of which is coloration. The image showcases the brilliantly colored necrophilous species Creophilus albertisi, one of two closely related species associated with dead animals and endemic to New Guinea. The image was created using a Visionary Digital microphotography system and was taken while imaging several other Creophilus species for a monograph that revised the 12 known species of Creophilus. This work, which comprises one chapter of my PhD dissertation, will be an invaluable aid to forensic entomologists, who study Creophilus beetles and other insects at carrion in order to estimate time-of-death. In addition to the applied value of this study, my work also helps us to understand the processes generating the huge diversity of insects on earth. Staphylinidae comprises more than 55,000 species and many species in related groups show the same kind of spectacular coloration as seen in Creophilus albertisi. This may represent an interesting case of evolutionary convergence on color patterns that serve as warnings to potential predators. The beetle measures 25 mm in length.