Featured Researcher

Joseph Benzel

Graduate assistant, Northern Arizona University

MS, Bioagricultural Sciences, Colorado State University, 2016

BS, Biology, Rocky Mountain College, Montana, 2014

Research interests

Systemics, Parthenogenesis, Evolutionary Biology, Entiminae.

My first encounter with weevils came late in my academic career when I had just come on as master’s student at Colorado State University. My advisor suggested I pick a group of weevils to complete a taxonomic revision of an understudied genus. After looking through the wide-ranging Gillette Museum collection, I settled on the genus Pachyrhinus, a small and ubiquitous entimine weevil that feeds on conifers, notable for the iridescent scales exhibited by some of the species. Over the next two years I dedicated myself to understanding the ecology and taxonomy of Pachyrhinus in the Nearctic, culminating in the publication of my revision. During that time, I also familiarized myself with the diversity of weevils and bark beetles, and generated the illustrations for Dr. Donald Brights' Monograph of Bark Beetles of the West Indies, along with completing a series of screening aids for the USDA APHIS program.

My current project is a comprehensive revision of the weevil genus Dyslobus, an understudied genus of entimine weevils found almost entirely in Western North America. Since the last such revision in 1933, ten more species of Dyslobus have been described and three of the species have been reported to be parthenogenic.

I’m hoping to use a combination of karyotyping and rearing studies to confirm these reports, along with providing the first phylogenetic trees and genetic analyses for the genus. I’m also gathering museum specimens including holotypes for morphological analysis, and comparing them with specimens from my own collection and subsequent field expeditions. Ultimately, I hoping to create a phylogeny of parthenogenic Dyslobus to be compared with similar studies of parthenogenic weevil genera from Europe and South America. At the very least I would like to lay the groundwork for such a study or to simply bring the taxonomy of this neglected group into the 21 st century.

Last updated February 7, 2023