Christopher K. Starr was born in Canada in 1949, but has spent the bulk of his adult life in the tropics of Asia and the New World. He was introduced to insects one day in 1954 by his grandmother, who happened to ask "Christopher, would thee like to go bug collecting?" What they found that day so amazed him that it grew into a lifetime in entomology. As an undergraduate in 1972, he reached the conviction that social insects (ants, termites and some wasps and bees) are the most interesting feature of the known universe, a view from which he has not wavered. He came to UWI from Taiwan in 1991, retiring as Professor of Entomology in 2014. He continues to research the lives of social insects and, having eaten the cascadu, expects to reside in Trinidad to the end of his days. An extensive set of autobiographical anecdotes can be found at http://www.ckstarr.net/cks/Magpie.pdf.
The reutilization is reported of an old nest by three female wasps, and the condition of the nest and its constituent cells, is recorded at the end of the season. Larvae of the pyralid genus Chalcoela are believed to have been a major cause of the nest's apparent low productivity. It is postulated that strong parasitoid pressure by Chalcoela is a selective factor against nest-founding by associated multiple queens in some North American species of Polistes.
(2012-06-28) O'Connor, Timothy K.; Starr, Christopher.K; Cameron, Sydney A.
In Trinidad, West Indies, wasps matching the description of Mischocyttarus
alfkenii build two readily distinguishable nest forms, differing both in architecture
(excentric versus centric petiole) and colour (yellowish grey-brown versus
reddish medium brown). Analysis of two mitochondrial genes (16S and cytochrome c
oxidase subunit I, COI) in excentric- and centric-form M. ‘alfkenii’ consistently segregates
individuals from the two nest forms, with genetic divergences comparable with
those observed among other species in the genus. Geometric morphometric analysis of
wing venation likewise recovers consistent differences between nest forms. Integrating
behavioural, genetic and morphometric evidence corroborates the hypothesis that
the two nest forms correspond to distinct species of recent common ancestry. Notes
accompanying the description of M. alfkenii indicate that the name belongs to the
species in which the nest has an excentric petiole and paler carton. The other species
is described as Mischocyttarus baconi
The reutilization is reported of an old nest by three female wasps, and the condition of the nest and its constituent cells, is recorded at the end of the season. Larvae of pyralid genus Chalcoela are believed to have been a major cause of the nest's apparent low productivity. It is postulated that strong parasitoid pressure by Chalcoela is a selective factor against nest-founding by associated multiple queens in some North American species of Polistes.
(2012-02-14) Manickchan, Shiva A.; Starr, Christopher K.; Ramjohn, Carol; Mahabir, Srishti V.; Mahabir, Kevin; Mohammed, Ryan S.
Eleutherodactylus johnstonei is an invasive anuran of Trinidad, West Indies. Monitoring the spread has shown that its local range is the north-west of Trinidad. E. johnstonei is increasing in population size and is increasing its local range by expanding into disturbed habitats. No immediate ecological threat has been identified. Previous studies on high amplitude callers suggest that E. johnstonei has the potential to become a pest in urban residential areas due to its loud mating calls. It is likely that E. johnstonei has become a permanent part of Trinidad’s biodiversity and its calls would become common in many more suitable disturbed areas in Trinidad.
In a survey of arboreal termites in different habitats in Trinidad and Tobago,
West Indies, three species predominated: Microcerotermes arboreus, Nasutitermes
corniger and N. ephratae. M. arboreus accounted for most colonies in a
pine plantation, while N. corniger predominated in farmland and mangrove.
The two species had roughly equal proportions, overall, at several broadleafforest
sites. A fourth species, either Termes hispaniolae or T. fatalis, appeared
only in broadleaf forest.
Each of the three common species shows wide variance in nest height
within habitats. The overall pattern is consistent with much greater withinspecies
variation among habitats than among species in the same habitat. In
no habitat is there a clear height differentiation among species.
Analysis of colonies shows the expected similarity in the two species of
nasute-termites. Both showed a mean soldier fraction of 17% among adults,
while in M. arboreus only 3% of adults were soldiers. Features of nest structure
may be related to this difference