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Back to the Beach – Insects on the Shores of the Salish Sea and Beyond
British Columbia has over 25,000km of coastline from Vancouver Island to Haida Gwaii. This is more than the United Kingdom or India. The coastline includes thousands of islands, rocky shores, sandy beaches, coastal dunes, and tide pools. While BC’s coastline has always been a part of the culture of the people in this region, its unique biodiversity is only starting to be fully documented. Shoreline-adapted species of insects have been the focus of limited previous study, especially on the Pacific coast. New research initiatives at the Royal BC Museum are looking into historical and newly-collected records of unique shoreline insects and spiders. Important historical collecting events include remote locales like Zayas Island and Brooks Peninsula. Highly specialized groups like barnacle flies (Dryomyzidae: Oedoparena), seaweed flies (Coelopidae), and shoreline rove beetles (Staphylinidae) could demonstrate unique patterns of biogeography and evolution once their systematics and distribution is better understood. The ecology of shoreline specialists like Fucellia (Anthomyiidae) and Telmetageton (Chironomidae) also need better study on the Pacific coast of Canada. A number of discoveries have been made so far, but much more remains to be done.
Dr. Gibson completed degrees in wildlife biology and insect systematics, and pursued a teaching degree and a brief career as a high school teacher. His return to research (and insects) included a doctorate degree and a stint at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes in Ottawa. Following positions in scientific project management and DNA-based wetland biodiversity assessment, he took on the curatorship at the Royal BC Museum in 2016.