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Quest for fire: Seeking New Fireflies in Hidden Wetlands of the Northeast

Tuesday, May 7, 2024, 5:00 PM
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The current climate crisis has a less well known but equally ominous threat – the global biodiversity crisis. Billions of dollars are spent annually searching for life in outer space, yet here on Earth it is estimated we can only describe roughly 15% of Earth’s life forms. Plant species and animals are increasingly threatened with extinction while conservation biologists race to assess the current state of global biodiversity attempting to identify knowledge gaps. For example, fireflies are popular charismatic insects, yet a recent North American assessment found that for greater than 50% of described firefly species, we know too little to determine whether they are common, or rare, or even where they occur.
Dr. Christopher Hecksher’s desire to learn more about the distribution of fireflies in eastern North America unexpectedly resulted in a crusade to explore rare and uncommon wetlands. The resulting work has been the discovery of seven species of fireflies in four Northeastern states that for more than 200 years had remained unknown to entomologists, hidden in remote wetlands in some of the most populated regions of our country.
Christopher M. Heckscher, Ph.D. has been studying the distribution of fireflies in eastern North America for 25 years. He holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology with a Minor in Zoology from Colorado State University, an M.S. in Applied Ecology and Entomology and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and Entomology both from the University of Delaware. For fifteen years, he was the Delaware State Zoologist for The Nature Conservancy and the Delaware
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These talks are co-organized and moderated by Fred Dylla, Executive Director Emeritus of the American Institute of Physics and author of Scientific Journeys, Linda Dylla, former public information officer at the Jefferson Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, and Colin Norman, the former News Editor at Sci