The 14th International Congress of Orthopterology was held in Mérida, Mexico on October 16-19, 2023. Over five days we heard from excellent plenary speakers from Mexico, Australia, the United States, and England spanning topics like biophysics of sound production, current and historical locust research, and efforts to better understand the ecology and evolution of these insects.
There were excellent poster and oral presentations, and ten different symposia ranging from the impacts of climate change on locust management to systematics and phylogenetics. Additionally, there were two workshops at the congress this year. One hosted by Derek Woller with co-authors Claudia Lomas, Mario Poot, Daniel Piste, Gonzalo Chí and Gabriela Alcala called Introduction to geospatial tools to improve locust monitoring.
In the other, Rick Overson and Mira Word Ries presented an early-stage project called HopperWiki in a workshop titled Advancements on digital tools for the orthopterist community: Introduction to a new version of Orthoptera Species File and to HopperWiki, a new information repository for global stakeholders. Maria Marta Cigliano, María Cabrera, and Martina Pocco presented the new Orthoptera Species File website for accessing the taxonomic history of the world’s orthopteran species. Please reach out to them if you have any questions or feedback on the new platform.
HopperWiki, an early-stage project hosted by the Global Locust Initiative (GLI), aims to be a global information repository for orthopteran insects (grasshoppers, locusts, katydids, crickets, and related insects) and their management. The project is engaging experts across diverse fields to both develop original content as well as providing an interface to discover and access the myriad existing resources surrounding the world's now almost 30,000 described species of Orthoptera. If you are interested in continuing the conversation and contributing to HopperWiki, please reach out to Mira at [email protected].
Overall the GLI team had a great time at the congress connecting with colleagues and integrating the plethora of valuable information and insights from all the presentations, workshops, and discussions. We would like to extend a big thank you to the Orthopterists’ Society that organizes this event every three years, and especially to Mario A. Poot-Pech and his local team who hosted this year’s event.
After the congress, we continued on to a field station of our collaborators at the Comité Estatal de Sanidad Vegetal de Yucatán (CESVY) in the town of Tizimín, to do field work. We set up nutritional ecology experiments with the Central American locust (Schistocerca piceifrons) as part of our work with the Behavioral Plasticity Research Institute. The goal of the experiments was to better understand how environmental factors affect the expression of locust phase change, and when expression of phase traits is expected to be beneficial. We look forward to analyzing this data and communicating our findings in collaboration with GLI network stakeholders.
Thank you again to Mario A. Poot-Pech and the CESVY team for your collaboration on this research. It would not have been possible without you. The amazing graduate students and our colleagues at Texas A&M University were also a huge part of making this field work a success.