Grasshoppers (Acrididae) in the Mississippi Entomological Museum

The Acrididae collection in the Mississippi Entomological Museum (MEM) dates back to 1892 and contains approximately 10, 500 specimens.  Prior to 2000, the Acrididae had not been a taxa of large interest, and the majority of specimens (approximatley 1,500) were from agricultural studies or collected in passing, with a large portion being undetermined. Since 2000, the collection has been curated, and most of the North American specimens have been identified and 9,000 specimens have been added.  Recent collections have mostly focused on the acridid fauna of the southeastern United States, especially, that of naturally occuring grasslands such as the Black Belt Prairie of Mississippi and Alabama and long leaf pine savannahs. Additionaly, surveys have been conducted in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sandhills in Georgia, and the Big Thicket National Preserve.  Collections have also been made on the annual W.H. Cross Expedition from the Ohoopee Dunes in Georgia, Bibb County Glades in Central Alabama, Alabama Limestone glades in Northern Alabama, and Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, and Cedar Glades in the Central Basin of Tennessee.

In July of 2012, the MEM recieved the United States National Museum (USNM) Melanoplinae collection (about 32,000 specimens) on long term loan. These specimens will be used in ongoing faunistic, biogeographic, and systmatic studies at the MEM. Additonally, the USNM collection will be curated and duplicate specimens collected by MEM staff will be added.

Current Research

            Currently JoVonn Hill and Matt Dakin are working on the Acrididae of the Southeastern United States, encompassing Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  The primary goals of this project are to more accurately describe the acridid fauna of the region and to give more detailed species distributions.
            JoVonn G. Hill is a Research Associate with the Mississippi Entomological Museum.  He started studying the grasshopper fauna of Mississippi’s Black Belt prairie remnants in 2000.  Since then he has expanded his scope to cover the entire fauna of the southeast. He is also currently working on a revision of the Melanoplus scudderi species group and investigating the fauna of naturally occuring grasslands in the southeast such as prairies, glades, and savannahs.
           Dr. Matt E. Dakin Jr. received his Ph.D. from Auburn University in 1968 where his dissertation focused on the Orthoptera of Alabama.  Afterwards he taught at the University of Southern Louisiana, where he spent 30 years studying the Orthoptera of Louisiana. Currently, he is retired and resides in Opelika, Alabama.