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The Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package (BugsCEP)

Research project BugsCEP is a research and teaching aid for palaeoentomology, entomology and ecology. As well as habitat and distribution data, it includes tools for climate and environmental reconstruction, and facilities for storing site based abundance/collection data. A variety of searching and reporting functions greatly augment the efficiency of beetle based research.

BugsCEP is a piece of free research and teaching software based around a database of Coleopteran (beetle) habitat, ecology, distribution and Quaternary fossil records. It can be used to simply look up information on particular taxa, or as part of more complex habitat studies using built in climate and environmental reconstruction tools, or for biodiversity studies. The software is aimed at ecologists working with both modern and fossil insects. BugsCEP allows you to create and maintain any number of sites and species lists with abundance or presence/absence data in an MS Excel like interface. Sampled habitats can easily be summarized with built in reporting functions which extract the relevant ecology and distribution information for the species at the chosen site. It offers a number of import/export, searching and reporting features to allow users to improve the efficiency of insect based research. It will also draw environmental reconstruction and climate change diagrams, and is the only system of its type. Direct link to project description:

Project overview

Project period:

2009-03-19 2011-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies

Research subject

Archaeology, Ecology

Project description

BugsCEP is a unique database orientated software package for environmental and climatic reconstruction from fossil beetle (Coleoptera) assemblages. Its continued development is the common aim of an international team of researchers involved in the construction of scientific research infrastructure.

BugsCEP consists of a reference database of ecology and distribution data for over 9 400 taxa, and includes temperature tolerance data for 436 species. It also contains abundance and summary data for over 770 sites - the majority of the known Quaternary fossil coleopteran record of Europe and a bit more. Sample based dating evidence is stored for a large number of these sites, and the data are supported by a bibliography of over 3 700 sources. Through the use of built in statistical methods, employing a specially developed habitat classification system (Bugs EcoCodes), semi-quantitative environmental reconstructions can be undertaken, and output graphically, to aid in the interpretation of sites. A number of built in searching and reporting functions also increase the efficiency with which analyses can be undertaken, including the facility to list the fossil record of species found by searching the ecology and distribution data. The existing Mutual Climatic Range (MCR) climate reconstruction method is implemented and improved upon in BugsCEP, as BugsMCR, which includes predictive modelling and the output of graphs and climate space maps.

The evaluation of the software demonstrates good performance when compared to existing interpretations. The standardization method employed in habitat reconstructions, designed to enable the inter-comparison of samples and sites without the interference of differing numbers of species and individuals, also appears to be robust and effective. Quantitative climate reconstructions can be easily undertaken from within the software, as well as an amount of predictive modelling. The use of jackknifing variants as an aid to the interpretation of climate reconstructions is discussed, and suggested as a potential indicator of reliability. The combination of the BugStats statistical system with an enhanced MCR facility could be extremely useful in increasing our understanding of not only past environmental and climate change, but also the biogeography and ecology of insect populations in general.

BugsCEP is the only available software package integrating modern and fossil coleopteran data, and the included reconstruction and analysis tools provide a powerful resource for research and teaching in palaeo-environmental science. The use of modern reference data also makes the package potentially useful in the study of present day insect faunas, and the effects of climate and environmental change on their distributions. The reconstruction methods could thus be inverted, and used as predictive tools in the study of biodiversity and the implications of sustainable development policies on present day habitats.

BugsCEP can be downloaded from:

Direct link to project description: