A newly discovered insect now bears the name Beresford, after Dr. David Beresford, a professor in Biology and the Trent School of the Environment.
Bryophaenocladius beresfordi is the newest member of the Chironomidae family, according to a recent paper published by Trent adjunct faculty member Dr. Armin Namayandeh and Professor Beresford in the journal, Aquatic Insects.
The paper is based on the results of a three-year government-led biodiversity study of insects in Northern Ontario through which Dr. Namayandeh, a graduate of Trent’s Environmental & Life Sciences Ph.D. program and a Chironomidae expert, was able to confirm the identity of the brand-new species of non-biting midge.
“Armin’s discovery is quite a big deal because it is a group that has been relatively well studied,” said Prof. Beresford, an insect biodiversity expert.
Honouring the Work of an Entomologist
While it was Prof. Namayandeh who discovered the species, he ultimately decided to name it after Prof. Beresford, and despite being a co-author on the paper, Prof. Beresford did not know the species’ new name until the review process was almost complete.
“We had just submitted the manuscript, or so I thought, and I was part of writing the paper,” Prof. Beresford said. “Then Armin submitted a copy to the journal in which he’d actually added in the naming of the new species as part of the manuscript.”
Prof. Beresford was a co-supervisor for Dr. Namayandeh’s Ph.D. at Trent and has been a mentor to him for over 10 years. This was his way of saying thank you.
“You may buy a gift for someone or make a nice gesture to show your appreciation, but if you want to thank David, you name a species of insect after him,” Dr. Namayandeh said.
A Tribute to Trent
Prof. Beresford said having a species named after him, especially by a Trent alumni, highlights the important work done at Trent University.
“It is remarkable to think that my colleagues are giving me this tribute, yet I didn’t actually discover it. So it’s a strange feeling, but it’s gratifying and it’s certainly humbling,” said Prof. Beresford. “It is also a tribute to the work we do here at Trent, which I think is the biggest thing.”
Prof. Beresford and Dr. Namayandeh were brought on to the Far North Biodiversity Project because of their expertise on insect species.
The project was led by Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and is one of the province’s largest biodiversity studies ever conducted. The study aimed to capture a comprehensive picture of the biodiversity of insects in Northern Ontario (north of the timber harvest line).
“We only know maybe a third of the insects in the world and even that figure is hard to know, but we know that insect biodiversity can tell us a lot about ecosystem health and ecological change, due to things like climate change,” said Prof. Beresford. “We looked at every insect we could find from hundreds of sample sites. Out of 2,903 specimens, we assigned 2,735 to 66 species. The remaining 168 specimens were identified to 17 genera only. Our findings from this study show that we are likely to discover new things the closer we look, especially in Ontario, where there are still vast areas of the province where we have done very little insect work.”