Entomology graduate student award results in more butterfly and moth data for global scientists

Supported with a Scriber Scholar Award, Erica Fischer has significantly expanded the butterfly and moth database available at MSU for international use.

Erica Fischer and Anthony Cognato
Erica Fischer and faculty adviser Anthony Cognato celebrate graduation.

While working on an entomology master’s degree, recent alum Erica Fischer was awarded the Mark and Kathleen Scriber Scholar Award. This award was established by Chairperson Emeritus Mark Scriber and his wife Kathleen to support continued research or public science education outreach in butterfly biology and conservation. Fischer’s commitment was to move the label information from butterfly and moth specimens in the AJ Cook Arthropod Research Collection (ARC) into its database. The collection was started by Professor Albert J. Cook in 1867 and later named in his honor. The ARC now houses close to 1.5 million specimens mounted on pins, slides or stored in alcohol. These specimens are available for global research, education, extension and outreach efforts.  

With the Scriber Scholar Award, Fischer succeeded in adding 5,000 specimens to the collection’s database, which currently holds more than 125,000 butterflies and moths. These records contain information of where and when the specimens were collected and often associated food plants. The expanded information provides scientists with data needed to test predictions concerning butterfly and moth ecology and biology. Fischer is now one of those scientists using these data to explain trends in butterfly and moth collecting in the United States since the 1800s.

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