A Southern Sojourn

Dr. Paula Cushing of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and I just completed a successful collecting trip in the southeastern United States. We met in Atlanta, rented a stylish new Fiat, and traveled throughout Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, staying at state park and national forest campgrounds… all of which included showers! Field work in the south is sure a whole lot easier, and more relaxing, than in the western deserts.  Let’s see, we encountered salamanders, a copperhead, two canebrake (timber) rattlesnakes, a black bear (from a distance), hot n’ salty boiled peanuts, delicious pizza in the deep south, a bona fide river baptism, and most importantly, lots of southern unstriped scorpions (Vaejovis carolinianus). By the end of the trip we were so good at finding scorpions that we were letting them go.  Many thanks to the CSU-AAUP Faculty Research Grants Program for funding this productive research trip.

Collecting in the South


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Pura Vida!

The 2014 Tropical Biology class had a safe, productive, and all around good time this year in Costa Rica… this group definitely knows how to work and play hard!  Congratulations to the students for great work on their research projects and to Drs. Elliot and Szczys for orchestrating another successful excursion. Some of the highlights included sloths, an anteater, howler monkeys, white-headed capuchins, several snakes (including a fer-de-lance!), scorpions, lots of birds and anurans, a tour of a pineapple plantation, a chocolate tour, and of course rafting! I’m already looking forward to our next trip in 2016.rafting

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New Grads

Brandon&Tara_GraduationCongratulations to Brandon Chatfield, Tara Holm, and the rest of the Class of 2014!

Brandon and Tara were exceptional students and integral to the development of our phylogenetics lab. They will definitely be missed, but we are excited to see where they go from here and what they accomplish next!


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Vaejovis grahami Ayrey & Soleglad


Vaejovis grahami (photo from Ayrey & Soleglad, 2014)

Many thanks to Rich Ayrey and Michael Soleglad for describing Vaejovis grahami, a new sky island scorpion from the Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona.  Their paper can be found a the link below.

Ayrey, R.F. & M.E. Soleglad. 2014. New species of Vaejovis from the Santa Rita Mountains, southern Arizona (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae). Euscorpius, 183.1-13. LINK


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2 new scorpion papers

Fig8Article 1

Graham, M.R., R.W. Bryson & B.R. Riddle. 2014. Late Pleistocene to Holocene distributional stasis in scorpions along the Baja California Peninsula. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Early View (LINK)

ABSTRACT: The biota of the Baja California peninsula (BCP) assembled in response to a complex history of Neogene tectonics and Quaternary climates. We constructed species distribution models (SDMs) for 13 scorpion species from the BCP to compare current suitable habitat with that at the latest glacial maximum about 21 000 years ago. Using these SDMs, we modelled climatic suitability in relation to latitude along the BCP. Our SDMs suggested that most BCP scorpion distributions have remained remarkably conserved across the latest glacial to interglacial climatic transformation. Three areas of climatic suitability coincide remarkably well with genetic discontinuities in other co-distributed taxa along the BCP, indicating that long-term persistence of zones of abrupt climatic transition offer a viable alternative, or synergistic enhancement, to hypotheses of trans-peninsular seaways as drivers of peninsular divergences.


Article 2

Webber, M.M. & M.R. Graham. 2013. An Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) found consuming a venomous prey item nearly twice its length. Western North American Naturalist, 73:530–532. LINK

ABSTRACT: Arizona bark scorpions (Centruroides sculpturatus Ewing) are commonly found throughout the Sonoran Desert in southwestern North America, and they are well known for being the most venomous scorpion in the United States. Despite their medical significance, C. sculpturatus remains ecologically understudied, and little is known regarding its natural foraging and feeding behaviors. Here, we present the first documented case of C. sculpturatus feeding on the Sonoran Desert centipede (Scolopendra polymorpha Wood) in the wild.

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The Sin City Scorpion

Pseudouroctonus peccatum - Male holotype (bottom) and female paratype (top).

Pseudouroctonus peccatum – Male holotype (bottom) and female paratype (top).

Congratulations to Amanda Tate and Rebecca Riddle for their first publication!  Both were students in my Invertebrate Zoology course at UNLV when they discovered an important new species of scorpion in the mountains just outside of Las Vegas, NV.  They named the scorpion Pseudouroctonus peccatum, as “peccatum” is Latin for “sin” in reference to the proximity of this species to Sin City (Las Vegas). We made several trips to the type locality but only found a handful of individuals, which explains why the species remained unknown to science for so long despite occurring in a popular tourist destination.  Hmm, how many other new scorpions have yet to be discovered in the mountains of the American Southwest?

Their discovery was recently published in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal ZooKeys. Amanda, Rebecca, and I all thank Michael Soleglad for his valuable contributions to the paper.

CITATION: Tate, A.E., R.R. Riddle, M.E. Soleglad & M.R. Graham. 2013. Pseudouroctonus peccatum, a new scorpion from the Spring Mountains near “Sin City,” Nevada (Scorpiones, Vaejovidae). ZooKeys, 364:29–45.

LINK: http://www.pensoft.net/journals/zookeys/article/6288/abstract/pseudouroctonus-peccatum-a-new-scorpion-from-the-spring-mountains-near-sin-city-nevada-scorpiones-vaejovidae

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Tityus grahami


Tityus grahami – male holotype

Well, after a busy year with lots of changes, I neglected to notice a new species of scorpion from the Upper Rio Negro region of the Brazilian Amazon with a brilliant name… Tityus grahami! Yup, my generous colleague Dr. Wilson Lourenço named the species after me for my “enthusiastic interest in the study of scorpions.” The paper was published in 2012 (citation & link below), but I had not been following the South American literature and only recently discovered the paper.

Tityus is a diverse genus distributed throughout most of South America, part of Central America, and the West Indies.  At least 10 of the more than 200 species are considered dangerously venomous.  I owe many thanks to Dr. Lourenço for this honor, as well as for providing the picture of the T. grahami holotype on the right.

Citation: Lourenco, W.R. 2012. Further considerations on Tityus (Archaeotityus) clathratus C. L. Koch, 1844 and description of two associated new species (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Boletin de la SEA, 50:277–283.

Link: http://www.scorpionworlds.fr/medias/files/tityus-clathratus.pdf




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