Anthony Cognato

Anthony Cognato

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Professor, Collection Director, and Graduate Advisor
Department of Entomology



PhD - University of California, Berkeley (1998)
MS - State University of New York, College of Environmental Science & Forestry (1995)
BS - State University of New York, College of Environmental Science & Forestry (1992)

See a list of Anthony Cognato's publications on Google Scholar.

Holistic Insect Systemantics Laboratory


I enjoy studying insect diversity and a sharing my knowledge and excitement with others. Over 20 years, I have developed an international research program in insect systematics and collection stewardship. My research program has been continuously funded since 2003, which has helped me to educate graduate and undergraduate students, revitalize the A.J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection, and revise the study of bark beetle systematics.

Current assignment: Teaching 20% | Research 80%

Program Description


As an educator, much of my time and resources are focused on advancing the knowledge and skills of my graduate students. I believe that an investment in our graduate students is an investment in MSU. These students provide the intellectual fodder and physical labor, which often leads to innovative and productive research. I have advised eight Ph.D. and eight masters’ students. I also served (and serve) on graduate student committees for several other departments. I encourage students to pursue their own systematic research interests within the context of my research program. This has led to my collaboration on nine non-bark beetle research topics ranging from termites to ants. These collaborations not only benefited my research program and MSU’s reputation, but also broadened my reputation as an insect systematist. I currently teach graduate classes in Taxonomy of Adult Insects and Spider Biology and Diversity. My philosophical objective in classroom teaching is to strengthen independent thinking among graduate students. To instill this objective, I restructured the taxonomy course and designed the spider class so to incorporate modern pedagogical methods such as learner-centered teaching.


Systematics is the study of organismal diversity, relationships and the classification of these relationships. It forms the foundation for the biological sciences through the creation of a common communication system concerning all life. Without a means to identify a study organism, the replication of biological experiments or the management of pests would not be possible. In addition, knowledge of organismal relationships (phylogenetics) provides a predictive framework for studies concerning species biology, ecology and evolution. My research program focuses on bark beetles (Scolytinae). In general, bark beetles function ecologically as decomposers of wood. However, some aggressive species and, to a lesser extent, benign species kill live trees, especially during periods of environmental stress. These pests cause severe economic and ecological losses, which often equates to millions of dollars. However, efforts to study and/or control this group are hampered by a lack of taxonomic knowledge. Hence my current taxonomic research of tropical bark beetles increases the knowledge of species diversity, the relationships among the species, and results in better means for their identification. Other scientists and diagnosticians use these results to improve surveys for potential pests. In addition, I educate national and international technicians, undergraduates, and graduate students in the identification and systematics of bark beetles. Thereby, perpetuating knowledge of these beetles through space and time.


  • Holistic Insect Systemtatics

Professional Experience

  • 2006-Present - Asst., Assoc., Full Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 2000-2006 - Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • 1999-2000 - Post-doctoral Researcher, Dept. of Entomology Biology, The Natural History Museum, London/Imperial College

Recent Publications (118 total, including 4 monographs)

  • Smith, S.M., R.A. Beaver, A.I. Cognato. 2018. New synonymy, new combinations and taxonomic changes in Japanese xyleborine ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Zootaxa 4521(3): 391-403.

  • Righi, C.A., C. Sandoval Rodriguez, E. N. L. Ferreira, W. A. C. Godoy, A. I. Cognato*. 2018. Microclimatic conditions for dung beetle (Coleoptera Scarabaeidae) occurrence – land use system as a determining factor. Environmental Entomology 47: 1420-1430.

  • Smith, S.M., R.J. Rabaglia, R.A. Beaver, P. Q. Thu, and A.I. Cognato. 2018. Attraction of Ambrosia Beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae: Xyleborini) to Semiochemicals in Vietnam with New Records and A New Species. The Coleopterists Bulletin 72: 838-844.

  • Gao, L., and A.I. Cognato*. 2018. Acanthotomicus suncei n. sp. (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), a sweetgum tree pest in China. Zootaxa 4471: 595–599.

  • Cognato, A.I. 2018. Callibora, Cognato, a new genus of xyleborine ambrosia beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae: Xyleborini) from Ecuador. The Coleopterists Bulletin 72: 801-804.

  • Cognato*, A.I., B.H. Jordal, and D. Rubinoff. 2018. Ancient “wanderlust” leads to diversification ofendemic Hawaiian Xyleborus species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Insect Systematics and Biodiversity 2(3): 1; 1-9. doi: 10.1093/isd/ixy005.

  • Basset, Y., C. Dahl, R. Ctvrtecka, S. Gripenberg, O.T. Lewis, S.T. Segar, H. Barrios, J.W. Brown, S. Bunyavejchewin, B.A. Butcher, A.I. Cognato, S. Davies, O. Kaman, P. Klimes, M. Knizek, S.E. Miller, G.E. Morse, V. Novotny, N. Pongpattananurak, P. Pramual, D.L.J. Quicke, R.K. Robbins, W. Sakchoowong, M. Schutze, E.J. Vesterinen, W-Z. Wang, Y-Y. Wang, G. Weiblen and J.S. Wright. 2018. A cross-continental comparison of assemblages of seed- and fruit-feeding insects in tropical rainforests: faunal composition and rates of attack. Journal of Biogeography. 1-18. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13211

  • Johnson, A.J., D.D. McKenna, B.H. Jordal, A.I. Cognato, S.M. Smith, A.R. Lemmon, E.L. Lemmonand J. Hulcr. 2018. Phylogenomics clarifies repeated origins of evolutionary innovations in bark beetles. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127: 229-238.

  • Smith, S.M., R.A Beaver, S. Singh, and A.I. Cognato*. 2018. Taxonomic clarification andneotype designation for three Indian xyleborine species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae). Zootaxa. 4394: 138–140. Sandoval Rodriguez, C., A.I. Cognato*, C.A. Righi. 2017. Bark and ambrosia beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) diversity found in agricultural and fragmented forests in Piracicaba-SP, Brazil. Environmental Entomology 46:1254-1263.

  • Gao, L., Y. Li, Y. Xu, J. Hulcr, A.I. Cognato, J-G. Wang, R-T. Ju. 2017. Acanthotomicus sp.
    (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), a destructive insect pest of North American sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua in eastern China. Journal of Economic Entomology, 110: 1592-1595.

  • Gohli, J. L.R. Kirkendall, S.M. Smith, A.I. Cognato, J. Hulcr and B.H. Jordal. 2017. Biological factors contributing to bark and ambrosia beetle species diversification. Evolution, 71: 1258-1272.

  • Hughes, M. A., J. J. Riggins, F. H. Koch, A.I. Cognato, C. Anderson, J. P. Formby, T. J.
    Dreaden, R. C. Ploetz, J. A. Smith. 2017. No rest for the laurels: symbiotic invaders causes unprecedented damage to southern USA forests. Biological Invasions, 19: 2143–2157.

  • Knížek, M. and A.I. Cognato*. 2017. Validity of Ips chinensis Kurentzov and Kononov
    confirmed with DNA data. Zoological Systematics, 42: 229-235. Invited paper. *Corresponding author..

  • Peris*, D., M.M. Solórzano Kraemer, S.M. Smith, and A.I. Cognato*. 2017. Eoplaytpus
    jordali gen.n. et sp.n., the first described Platypodinae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) from Baltic amber. Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny, 75: 185-194..

  • Seltmann, K.C., N.S. Cobb, L.F. Gall, C.R. Bartlett, M.A. Basham, I. Betancourt, C.
    Bills, B. Brandt, R.L Brown, C. Bundy, M.S. Caterino, C. Chapman, A. Cognato, J. Colby, S.P. Cook, K.M. Daly, L. Dyer, N.M. Franz, J.K. Gelhaus, C.C. Grinter, C.E. Harp, R.L. Hawkins, S.L. Heydon, G.M. Hill, S. Huber, N. Johnson, A.Y. Kawahara, L.S. Kimsey, B.C. Kondratieff, F-T. Krell, L. Leblanc, S. Lee, C.J. Marshall, L.M. Mccabe, J.V. Mchugh, K.L.Menard, P.A. Opler, N. Palffy-Muhoray, N. Pardikes, M.A. Peterson, N.E. Pierce, A. Poremski, D.S. Sikes, J.D. Weintraub, D. Wikle, J.M. Zaspel and G. Zolnerowich. 2017. LepNet: The Lepidoptera of North America Network. ZooKeys, 4247:73-

  • Short, D.P.G., K. O’Donnell, J.E. Stajich, M.C. Berger, A.M. Macias, E.J. Spahr, J. Hulcr, T. Kijimoto, A. Eskalen, C.C. Bateman, J. Skelton, S.C. Lynch, A.I. Cognato, M.F.
    Cooperband, M.T. Kasson. 2017. PCR multiplexes discriminate Fusarium symbionts of invasive Euwallacea ambrosia beetles associated with canker and dieback diseases of trees in the United States. Plant Disease, 101: 233-240.

  • Smith, S.M. and A.I. Cognato*. 2017. Camptocerus lucwildi Smith and Cognato, new species (Curculionidae: Scolytinae: Scolytini) from Ecuador. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 71:445-448.

  • Smith, S.M., R.A. Beaver, and A.I. Cognato*. 2017. The ambrosia beetle Ambrosiophilus peregrinus, introduced to the United States, is Ambrosiophilus nodulosus (n. comb.) (Curculionidae: Scolytinae). The Coleopterists Bulletin, 71: 552-553.

  • Smith, S.M*. A.V. Petrov, A.I. Cognato*. 2017. Beetles (Coleoptera) of Peru: A survey of the Families. Curculionidae: Scolytinae. Coleopterists Bulletin, 71: 77-94

  • Taft W.H and A.I. Cognato*. 2017. Recognition of a new Carmenta clearwing moth species from New Mexico supported by morphology and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I data (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae: Sesiinae: Synanthedonini) Zootaxa, 4337: 436-444. *Corresponding author