The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Information exchange (and stuff, too) via social media

One of the benefits of blogging, I’ve discovered, it that creates opportunities for exchange (this is a social medium after all, right?) In addition to information-and-idea-swapping-and-sharing, the swapping or sharing of STUFF can also sometimes be facilitated.

Take, for instance, the shiny, shiny package of shininess that I received in the mail today, all the way from Spain. It contained these:

Lovely little ethanol-filled vials with Carabids (ground beetles) and Buprestids (jewel beetles) collected this summer in Texas, Kansas and Missourri. A PhD student working in Spain sent these to me, as a gesture of thanks.

Back in February, I received an email about the Calligrapha sp. leaf beetles I’d photographed – this student was looking for specimens from North America to contribute to his systematics study on the genus. I agreed to keep an eye out for them, and one day in May I hit the jackpot, finding about 10 specimens. I watched for more all summer but never saw another – even though there were signs of feeding on the dogwood they so love to munch.

Long story short: a fellow grad student got specimens that will hopefully help his research. He, in turn, sent me these beetles he’d collected while visiting the US. He may feel differently, but I think I got the sweeter end of this deal.

Behold, a teaser of the beautimoniousness that is now my Precious:


More pics to come once it’s finished drying. This guy (and probably the others, I haven’t even really looked at them yet) is going on the List of Things That Make Me Gleeful.


The main point of this post is actually not pretty beetles (srsly). What I want to highlight here is that social media can be an incredibly useful tool for scientists wanting to collaborate.

And I’m not even referring to capital-“C” “Collaboration”, as in, where stuff gets written down and terms and funding are agreed upon, etc. etc. I’m simply talking about helping out, and getting help from, other folks. You know, because it’s a Good Thing To Do.

In my experience, it’s a great way to find like-minded science-y people (i.e., ones interested in exchange, sharing, and collaboration) with similar research interests. Secondly, the general public likes to be involved in, and contribute to, science. Putting yourself and your research out there on blogs, Twitter, G+, Facebook, etc., can open doors to both professional and public interest and engagement. I am pretty convinced that it’s well worth the effort…

8 responses to “Information exchange (and stuff, too) via social media

  1. Morgan Jackson December 5, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    So cool! This is the sort of stuff I dreamed would happen when I started my blog; receiving samples in the mail from like-minded individuals! Can’t wait to see what you got!

    • TGIQ December 6, 2011 at 7:06 AM

      I will be checking out the rest of the critters today, but I’m pretty excited! It’s pretty cool that I was able to obtain these specimens without traveling anywhere πŸ™‚

  2. Ted C. MacRae December 6, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    Could agree more. I can’t begin to count all of the exchanges-collaborations-kindnesses born from the blog (including a nice little paper in prep. about tiger beetle parasitism :)). Nice articulation of the concept.

    • TGIQ December 6, 2011 at 7:07 AM

      Sounds like an interesting paper, Ted πŸ˜‰ I just think it’s a fantastic way to meet and reach out to people that I’d otherwise never have had the chance to interact with.

  3. Subverted December 6, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Is the shiny beetle a Dicaelus? Those are a lot of fun πŸ™‚ pretty too.

    • TGIQ December 6, 2011 at 7:09 AM

      I actually have no idea yet! I basically opened the vial and went, “OMG SHINY” and immediately pinned and posed it. Once it’s dry I’ll haul out my keys and have a closer look. For now, though, I’m just enjoying how darned pretty it is πŸ™‚ (I’ll but that genus on my list of stuff to check out, though!)

  4. George Sims December 6, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    You are spot-on. I was thrilled to go out and collect several dozen Calopteryx maculata (Ebony jewelwing) damselfly males to send to a guy in Canada for his research. And, after running my dung beetle traps for the first time, and finding mostly drab, innocuous stuff, I was delighted to receive a package from an on-line friend, full of SHINY Phanaeus vindex to brighten my day and give me hope.

    This is fun. Now, I’m on the lookout for odonate larva, so I can sharpen my ID skills.

  5. Pingback: Scientists & Social Media; A Popular Subject » Biodiversity in Focus Blog

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