Fireflies are a cosmopolitan group of bioluminescent beetles classified in the family Lampyridae. The first catalogue of Lampyridae was published in 1907 and since that time, the classification and systematics of fireflies have been in flux. Several more recent catalogues and classification schemes have been published, but rarely have they taken phylogenetic history into account. Here I infer the first large scale anchored hybrid enrichment phylogeny for the fireflies and use this phylogeny as a backbone to inform classification. Several classification changes are made throughout the group with emphasis on morphological traits that support the AHE hypothesis. Building off of this classification work, and in an effort to help correct taxonomic issues that have plagued the Lampyridae, I also present an electronic identification tool to the firefly genera of the world. This tool is built in Lucid and incorporates 23 characters (features) and 76 character states. These characters are inspired by current and historic literature. Emphasis was given to characters and states that are easily located and do not require complex dissection. The key currently works for 113 of the 146 known lampyrid genera. As such, it should be noted that it is a provisionary attempt at identification, and all identifications should be checked against primary literature. Fireflies, like many organisms, rely on sensory cues from their environment and are an ideal system for studying sensory niche adaptation. This is due in large part to the dependence of many species on bioluminescent sexual communication. Using transcriptomics, I examine the phototransduction pathway and provide some of the first evidence for positive selection in beetles, of components of the phototransduction pathway beyond opsins. Based on preliminary data gathered in several BYU Bio-100 courses for non-majors, I observed that many students come to class with a human-centric view of the world. In addition to this, and perhaps as an explanation, students also come to class without a firm understanding of natural history collections and their roles both to the general public and specifically to science. Therefore, in two sections of BIO-100 at BYU students were given an online module as part of their normal homework. This module was designed to use fireflies from the Monte L Bean Science Museum to introduce students to the concept of natural history museums and to give an example of an organism at risk for extinction. Unfortunately, no gain in pro-environmental thinking was observed post-intervention, however, I did observe gains in student's appreciation of the importance of natural history collections to both the general public and to scientific research.



College and Department

Life Sciences



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classification, lucid, key, phototransduction, natural history collections



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Life Sciences Commons