Alexey Solodovnikov 

Alexey is the Coleoptera (Beetles) collection curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen. He is a systematic entomologist, with the taxonomic focus on rove beetles (Staphylinidae). He begun his research from the faunistic studies of the Western Caucasus in southern Russia, continued as a PhD student at the Entomology Department of St. Petersburg State University and then as a post doc at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Since May 2007 Alexey has worked in Denmark at the University-based museum and continues his beetle-based systematic research. Alexey oversees a collection of ca. 2 million specimens, provides entomology-related teaching, student mentoring and science fund-raising. Alexey steers this lab and gains inspiration from ideas and deeds of its members on a daily basis, not to mention that they help him to keep promises and deadlines. 

Lab members
Sree Gayathree Selvantharan

As a manager of the Coleoptera collection at the museum and administrative support staff for the BIG4 training network in systematic entomology led by Alexey, Sree assists scientists and students worldwide to study the material in the collection and enables BIG4 students to conduct their research. At the museum, she is responsible for curatorial support and collection management (including specimen preparation, identification, digitization and beetle loan management). She is instrumental in technical and logistical support for the Biosystematics department and Solodovnikov lab-based students, scientific and public visitors, as well as volunteers. Sree facilitates efficient operation of the Coleoptera collection and Alexey's lab at various levels, from daily work with specimens to information management and distribution, equipment inventory and storage, travel arrangements and budget accounting.

Dagmara Żyła

Dagmara is a postdoc funded by the Villum Foundation. She is a palaeobiologist interested in phylogenetics and macroevolution, particularly in the integration of fossil and recent data and diversification through time. During her PhD studies she focused on the early morphological evolution of aphids (Hemiptera). Her research entailed the use of morphological features to determine taxonomic status and phylogenetic relationships among lineages at the early stages of aphid evolution. As a sidetrack from the PhD studies, she started the explorations of Triassic insects in Poland, discovering with her colleagues a new fossil insect deposit.  Now her target group is the most diverse lineage of generalist ground-dwelling predators, the Staphylinine-group of rove beetles. She focuses on the integration of the neo- and palaeo- morphological and genomic data into a total evidence phylogenetic analysis. Next, she will estimate diversification rate shifts and associate them with the inferred evolutionary driving forces.

Janina Kypke

Janina is a PhD student, part of the BIG4 consortium. Her project focusses on the reconstruction of the basal phylogeny of rove beetles (Staphylinidae) using molecular data, morphological traits as well as fossil records and is supervised by Alexey and Dagmara, with co-supervision from Fredrik Ronquist. During her Master studies, she was a part of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Applied Ecology, and in her dissertation she investigated the role of hybridization on the evolution of yellow rust using a newly developed recombination detection software. As an ecologist, Janina enjoys fieldwork and to be in nature, also for leisure time activities, e.g. climbing. Concerning the BIG4 project she is excited to learn more about the evolution of rove beetles, develop NGS protocols on non-model species like Staphylinidae and enhance her bioinformatics skill set.

Josh Jenkins Shaw

Josh is a PhD student, part of the BIG4 consortium. He is an entomologist with a particular interest in the taxonomy, systematics and phylogenetics of rove beetles (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). For his PhD project, his target group is the mostly south-temperate distributed subtribe Amblyopinina (Staphylinini). His project consists of a generic revision and molecular phylogeny of Amblyopinina; taxonomy and faunistics of Amblyopinina from some oceanic islands in Australasia; and finally, resolved biogeographic history of Lord Howe Island with a particular focus on developing Amblyopinina as a model group for evolutionary and biogeographic studies. 

Igor Orlov

Igor is a PhD student, part of the BIG4 consortium. His project is focused on systematics, phylogenetics, biogeography and biodiversity of the subfamily Aleocharinae (Staphylinidae) of New Zealand. Igor was focussed on beetles from his childhood. For his MSc project at Brest University, he studied biodiversity and ecology of the Staphylinidae of Brest region in Belarus. Igor took part in several entomological expeditions in Crimea mountains and Carpathians. Before joining BIG4, he was teaching biology and chemistry at the secondary school. In addition to the taxonomic study of Aleocharinae, one of the most difficult rove beetle subfamilies, he is working on developing an efficient workflow for studying the so-called 'dark taxa'. In his PhD project, he will combine morphospecies, DNA-barcoding, revisionary systematics, genomics and statistical phylogenetic approaches that would hopefully allow to do it.

Maria Salnitskaja

Maria is a PhD student at Saint-Petersburg State University (Russia), co-supervised by Alexey. For her previous projects she specialized on systematics and phylogenetics of bark-beetles (Coleoptera: Scolytinae). Now she focuses on rove-beetles (Staphylinidae), with the north-temperate species-rich genus Quedius chosen as a target group for her PhD, especially the Palaearctic fauna of this genus. Quedius is one of the largest genera of Staphylinidae with numerous species in Europe and Siberia bearing ecological and biogeographical information about this vast temperate region. However, numerous systematic difficulties prevent this genus from being explored that way. Thus Maria’s goal is a revision and phylogeny of the genus Quedius with the main stress on the European and Sibearian fauna. Her work is based on both traditional and innovative methods of systematics such as geometric morphometry, advanced digital photography, or DNA-based species delimitation.

Aslak Kappel Hansen

Aslak is currently a Research Assistant working on a Danish beetle database ( supported by 15. Juni Fonden. It will include high-quality images, descriptions, and keys for all Danish beetles. 
He did his MSc on the dispersal of beetles to the Læsø island in space and time, using both a modern population genetic evaluation of Carabus arcensis and an eco-faunistic review of the rove beetles. Has also helped to review the endogean species of Quedius, including description of a new species collected on an expedition to Far East Russia. Soon he will start a PhD with Mariana Chani-Posse on the exchange of rove beetles from North to South America, and vice versa. The aim is to explore temporal and spatial aspects of the terrestrial faunal exchange between the Americas. It will focus on the two genera, Amblyopinus and Paederomimus, the first belonging to a rather old and biogeographically restricted clade in the Southern Hemisphere (Amblyopinina) and the other representing younger, highly radiated and world-wide distributed clade of northern origin (Philonthina).

Katarzyna Koszela

Kasia did her PhD at the University of Silesia in Poland. She was working on sexual reproduction among invasive plant species. Soon after she came to Denmark, Kasia joined our lab as a volunteer. Gradually, the unexpected adventure with Staphylinidae transformed into fascination with this group, which resulted in bringing funding for developing the digital key for Danish rove beetles. Soon she will work on that as a Research Assistant. The project is fully funded by the Augustinus Fonden. It is particularly exciting since the key she will create will be the first such key for Denmark and one of the very few in the world. In addition, Kasia is involved in the development of a beetle tissues collection with a special focus on Staphylinidae.

Arn Rytter Jensen

Arn is a MSc student working on the systematic placement of the extinct rove beetle Cafius gigas refined by ancient DNA. Cafius gigas was a big flightless and phylogenetically puzzling rove beetle from Lord Howe Island, a remote tiny volcanic island far off the east coast of Australia. Like several other Lord Howe Island flightless endemics, C. gigas became extinct due to predatory pressure of the human introduced rats. Preliminary morphological examination by Alexey shows that this species does not belong to Cafius, but a different genus within the rove beetle subtribe Philonthina, possibly close to the Hesperus lineage. Using a sample of Philonthina species the plan is to perform a morphology-based phylogenetic analysis to test this hypothesis and refine the phylogenetic placement of C. gigas, with possible systematic change to implement. Further, it will be also combined with a molecular-based analysis using 'ancient' DNA from this extinct species.

Amalia Bogri

Amalia did her BSc project at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). There she studied and became interested in zoology and biogeography, so she joined the Coleoptera laboratory. For her Bachelor project, she focused on the habitat preferences and patterns of monthly phenology of certain Tenebrionidae genera, on twelve islands of the Central Aegean Sea. Her research entailed identifying several morphologically challenging species and analyzing the complex biogeographical data she produced. The main conclusion of her project is that the distribution of Tenebrionidae on the Aegean Islands is determined by the species ability to disperse, the type of soil substrate, and the composition and structure of the vegetation. The majority of the species belonged to the ‘hydrophilic’ Tenebrionidae, presenting ethological adaptations to avoid the typical drought and high temperatures of the Greek summer. Now, she is an Erasmus+ student in our lab, working closely with Dagmara and Janina. She will use existing data to perform phylogenetic analysis, but also do some molecular lab work to generate novel data. As a trained beetle morphologist, she will also work on the placement of newly discovered fossils using a morphological data matrix and subsequent phylogenetic analysis.

  Mathias Just Justesen

Mathias completed his BSc at the University of Copenhagen investigating dispersal patterns for beetles in Denmark using local faunistic literature. He did part of his MSc at the Solodovnikov lab, doing an ecological assessment of the managed and unmanaged forests in Denmark. For that he used the diversity of Carabidae and Staphylinidae collected by pitfall traps, as a proxy for the ecological assessment. Currently he is a PhD student at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management of the University of Copenhagen working on invasive and pest insects in Denmark. The main focus is on the problematic small fir bark beetle (Cryphalus piceae), that as part of its life-cycle lays eggs in living trees in greenery plantations, ultimately girdling and killing the trees.

Line Kræmer

Line is a former BSc student of Alexey, with the prospect of continuing her research at the lab as a MSc student. She was exploring the Staphylinidae fauna of the Greek island Skyros, as well as describing the paleobiogeography of the island and the Aegean Archipelago. Her collection of rove beetles there mostly yielded widespread species. However, one interesting finding of a specialized genus of dry habitats showed potential of being either one or two undescribed species of LeptobiumLine is currently working on developing a digital field compendium of the most common insects found in Denmark that as a teaching tool for the Biology students at the University of Copenhagen at the Terrestrial Zoology field course as well as to the public through App Store. The compendium project is supported by the Augustinus and 15th of June Foundations. 

Adam Brunke

Adam is originally from Canada and completed his BSc and MSc theses at the University of Guelph, both on the biodiversity and ecology of predatory beetles in Canadian soybean agroecosystems. There he gained taxonomic expertise in the beetle family Staphylinidae and experience with studying diversity in an applied setting. Later, he moved to Copenhagen where he recently completed his PhD on the diversity, evolution and ancient biogeography of a mega-diverse rove beetle lineage of Staphylinini in the northern hemisphere. In his project, morphological, molecular and fossil data were used for phylogeny reconstruction and reclassification of a global lineage of rove beetles containing more than 5,700 species. Particular focus was placed on the impact of Eocene climate change on the distribution and diversity of a newly discovered subtribe. After his PhD Adam had 1 year post doc at the Vienna Museum of Natural History and then he moved to the Canadian National Insect Collection in Ottawa to continue his work on Staphylinidae.

Andrea Schomann

Andrea is from Germany where she got MSc degree at Kiel University. After moving to Denmark in 2007 and a year of work at the Natural History Museum as a student assistant with Alexey, she became a PhD student there. Her project was focused on the taxonomy and phylogeny of the puzzling rove beetle genus Hyperomma distributed in Australia and New Zealand only. She revised New Zealand Hyperomma, and by exploring the genus in the broader phylogenetic context, developed the first molecular phylogeny of the subfamily Paederinae. Her project brought insights on the origin of a peculiar disjunct distribution between Australia and New Zealand. Currently Andrea is a post doctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia, with extended research stays at Lund University, Sweden.

Mariana Chani-Posse

Mariana is originally from Argentina and works with the mega-diverse subtribe Philonthina. She did a 1-year postdoc (2014-2015) in our lab, which she mostly spent on generating molecular and morphological data for her on-going large-scale phylogeny of Philonthina and allied lineages of Staphylinini. Thanks to her effort in developing a total-evidence phylogeny, many other projects could be now based on that. One of the examples is Arn's MSc project, largely relying on Mariana's phylogeny.  After coming back to Argentina, Mariana works as a researcher at the CONICET at Mendoza with special interest in the Neotropical rove beetle diversity and biogeography. Although now back at her institution in Argentina she continues to work in close collaboration with Alexey and others. Soon, she will become an Aslak's PhD supervisor, working together on the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI) using Staphylinids.

Xiaoyan Li

Xiaoyan has received her PhD at the Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Science. In 2013-2014 she spent 1,5 years as a post doc in the lab, where she continued her systematic studies of Chinese Paederinae, and contributed to the study of Australasian rove beetles of the subtribe Amblyopinina. She returned to the Institute of Zoology in Beijing where she works as a researcher in Prof. Zhou group. Xiaoyan’s main interest is systematics and taxonomy of the mega-diverse rove beetle genus Paederus

Sergey Tarasov

In 2010-2012 Sergey spent some time in our lab while completing his MSc project at Kaluga State University in Russia. Even though his taxonomic expertise are dung beetles, Sergey developed deep interest in phylogenetics and provided strong input in Alexey’s and his collaborators phylogenetic study of puzzling Early Cretaceous rove beetles. After the MSc he moved to Norway where he accomplished large-scale phylogeny of dung beetles and obtained his PhD. Currently, Sergey is a postdoc at National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) at the University of Tennessee where he is working with Brian O'Meara and Sergey Gavrilets. His postdoc project is focused on development of new ontology-informed models for reconstructing evolutionary dynamics of phenotype and tools for their statistical inference. As an entomologist, he continues working on taxonomy and phylogenetics of dung beetles.

Personal website

Yanli Yue 

In 2010-2011 Yanli Yue spent several months in the lab here while she was a PhD student at the Capital Normal University at Prof. Ren paleontology group. She brought with her dozens of amazing fossil rove beetles from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation. Their study resulted in a series of papers, one of which was also co-authored by Sergey Tarasov. After obtaining PhD degree Yanli became a lecturer and researcher at the School of Life Science of Ningxia University