Chair: Daniel Janzen,
University of Pennsylvania, USA
Vice-chair: Brian Fisher,
California Academy of Sciences, USA
Most of Earth's biodiversity involves arthropods that live on land. The immense species count, estimated at five million, has impeded acquisition of the detailed information needed to guide decisions on habitat protection in the face of expanding agricultural and forestry operations.
Because it is not feasible to build a barcode library for all these species at this time, iBOL's Terrestrial Bio-Surveillance Working Group will construct barcode libraries for three groups whose patterns of diversity are likely to be representative of other terrestrial life.
Much terrestrial biodiversity involves arthropods whose life cycle incorporates a sessile, plant-feeding larval stage with flying adults. We have selected the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) as the sentinel lineage for this group. A second major compartment of terrestrial life involves organisms which walk on the ground for much or all of their lifespan. Ants have been chosen as the sentinel lineage for this group. Finally, there is a constellation of species whose members live a subterranean life and we have selected earthworms as the sentinel lineage for this group.
By focusing analytical efforts on these three groups, this Working Group will build comprehensive barcode libraries for ants (15,000) and earthworms (5,000) and will gather records for half the described species of Lepidoptera (80,000) by 2014. These barcode libraries will be the basis for the detailed biodiversity maps needed to guide the positioning of protected areas and to monitor the status of terrestrial life.