biologe

Blog and online journal with editorial content about science, art and nature.

Kategorie: Uncategorized

Mites, Biodiversity, evolution, species extinction, new species

More Specialists are needed to study our biodiversity: recognizing and describing new species, redescribing known ones, mapping their distribution and understanding their ecological role in an ecosystem.Thus we have to support our children and students to become fascinated by nature.

Also interested laypeople, hobby researchers and nature lovers can contribute to species preservation and nature conservation (and thus climate protection) and encourage their children or relatives to study biology or a similar subject.

Es werden mehr Spezialisten benötigt, um unsere Biodiversität zu studieren: neue Arten zu erkennen und zu beschreiben, schon bekannte Arten neu zu beschreiben, ihre Verbreitung zu kartieren und ihre ökologische Rolle in einem Ökosystem zu verstehen. Daher müssen wir unsere Kinder und Schüler dabei unterstützen, sich für die Natur zu begeistern.

Auch interessierte Laien, Hobbyforscher und Naturfreunde können einen Beitrag zum Arten- und Naturschutz (und damit zum Klimaschutz) leisten und ihre Kinder oder Angehörigen für ein Studium der Biologie oder eines ähnlichen Faches animieren.

© Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin 2022

I provide advices and information about the topics mites (in general, in your house or your company and in a hygiennic context), biodiversity, correlation biodiversity research and climate change, speciation processes, describing new species, species extinction, taxonomy for private people, educational institutions, e.g. schools or university students. Please see my menue item „Angebot biologische Beratung…“

Ich biete Beratung und Informationen zu den Themen Milben (allgemein, in Ihrem Haus oder Ihrem Unternehmen oder im hygienischen Kontext), Biodiversität, Korrelation Biodiversitätsforschung und Klimawandel, Artbildungsprozesse, Beschreibung neuer Arten, Artensterben, Taxonomie, für Privatpersonen, Bildungseinrichtungen, z.B. Schulen, oder Studenten. Bitte beachten Sie meinen Menüpunkt "Angebot biologische Beratung..."

Two different forms of cryptic species-complexes in mites of the Histiostomatidae (Astigmata) from bank mud and bark beetle-galleries and their significance for applied biodiversity research

Biologe ISSN 2750-4158

Stefan F. Wirth, acarologist, freelancer, Berlin, Germany

Citation: WIRTH S. F. (2021): Two different forms of cryptic species-complexes in mites of the Histiostomatidae (Astigmata) from bank mud and bark beetle-galleries and their significance for applied biodiversity research. Biologe (ed. Stefan F. Wirth), category : original scientific papers volume 1 (2021; 2022) , 1-7. URL: https://biologe.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/two-different-forms-of-cryptic-species-complexes-in-mites-of-the-histiostomatidae-astigmata-from-bank-mud-and-bark-beetle-galleries-and-their-significance-for-applied-biodiversity-research

Abstract

In biodiversity research, knowledge of species numbers is the basis for planning environmental protection and climate research. However, the taxonomic work is made more difficult by cryptic species complexes in the world of organisms. Careless determinations of similar species must be prevented. For a beter understanding, examples from different animal groups are given. Using two species complexes of the mite taxon Histiostomatidae (Astigmata), two different forms of cryptic species complexes are presented in detail. Based on three species from a group associated with bark beetles, an example of a species complex is presented in detail, in which all stages of development look confusingly similar to one another. On the other hand, four species of mites from the bank mud of standing waters can only be confused with one another on the basis of their phoretic dispersal stage (deutonymph), while the adults differ distinctly. The meaning of such species complexes is discussed in the evolutionary and applied context. It is critically pointed out that too few specialists are funded worldwide and few taxonomists have to work too quickly, so that there is a risk of cryptic groups of species not being taken into account in surveys.


Keywords: cryptic species groups, evolution, biodiversity research, Acariformes, Histiostomatidae, Astigmata, phoresy, Histiostoma piceae, Histiostoma Scheucherae, Histiostoma piceae, Histiostoma ulmi, Histiostoma palustre, Histiostoma litorale, male morphology, SEM, Histiostoma maritimum, Scolytinae, Carabidae, sapropel


Introduction


Biodiversity research is an essential fundament for disciplines like climate research and climate changes and thus contributes to an understanding about, how we humans need to treat our own environments. A main aspect of biodiversity research besides species monitoring is the evaluation of how many species we have. Specialists need to recognize and scientifically describe new species, especially, when it for example comes out that a complex of very similiar species contains more species than expected before (e.g. Laska et al. 2018). In tendency researchers in the field of biodiversity focus most on vertebrates in temperate regions and generally less in invertebrates (Titley et al. (2017).

The number of recently existing species in numerous cases is still unknown, especially in taxa of small organisms, such as mites. Due to a lack of specialists and due to a lack of fundamental research fundings, relatively much is known about direct pests of human sources, such as Varroa or Tetranychidae mites. But within the major clade Acariformes, ecological contexts and numbers and distribution of species of some free living taxa of Prostigmata and Oribatida/Astigmata are still an open field, even in Central Europe, e. g. Germany (Wirth, 2004).

This is despite the fact that for example phoretic mites, which use other arthropods as carriers for dispersal, can have highly complex relationships with their phoretic hosts, thus being of interest from the evolutionary, the ecological and even an applied point of view. The latter is discussed for example in context with different bark beetles, which their mites might affect by acting as vectors for fungus spores (Klimov & Khaustov, 2018).

Cryptic species complexes are a topic that is currently being widely dealt with in science. Such species complexes are characterized by the fact that they are difficult or impossible to distinguish morphologically. However, they can be clearly differentiated from one another using barcoding (e.g. Kameda et al, 2007), behavioral or ecological studies. Crossing experiments are a frequently used ecological method. Because according to the biological species concept, individuals of different species either cannot be crossed with one another or the offspring of such a hybridization is not fertile (e.g. Sudhaus & Kiontke, 2007).

Crossing experiments are particularly suitable for the investigation of cryptic species complexes in species that have a rapid life cycle and, due to their small size, can be accommodated well in standardized conditions. Such organisms are, for example, free-living nematodes of the Rhabditidae (e. g. Sudhaus & Kiontke, 2007) or mites of the Histiostomatidae (e.g. Wirth, 2004).

The cryptospecies phenomenon, which means that closer investigations show that animals once attributed to the same species actually represent several species, can in principle occur in the entire animal kingdom and in plants and fungi too (Shneyer & Kotseruba, 2015). Previously known subspecies are often given their own species status as a result. One example are the two monitor lizard species Varanus niloticus and V. ornatus (e. g. Böhme & Ziegler, 2004).

In this monitor lizard research mainly ecological differences to V. niloticus have been studied. As one of the results, V. ornatus does not have a diapause in summer, which is a distinct difference to V. niloticus (Böhme & Ziegler, 2004).
As an unusual phenomenon, a case of parthenogenesis was even observed in V. ornatus, but not in V. niloticus (Hennessy, 2010) so far. However, morphological differences between these two monitor lizards were known even before, for example relating to aspects of the dorsal drawing. But the authors named above were able to provide evidence that these morphological differences do not occur gradually, as orgininally assumed, but rather distinctly.

Another example of two sibling species (the most simple form of cryptic groups) that have been identified as different species by molecular biological studies are Homo sapiens and H. neanderthalensis (e.g. Prüfer et al., 2014). Originally it was assumed that H. neanderthalensis was a subspecies of H. sapiens. This is for example supported by the proven cultural exchange between the two species and the great morphological similarity. In the meantime, however, morphological findings such as the morphology of the nasal duct of the Neanderthal man have also supported the genetic findings (Márquez et al., 2014). However, very recent studies show that Neanderthal genetics have entered the lines of H. sapiens (Hajdinjak er al., 2021). As a result, both forms have crossed and produced fertile offspring. It remains to be seen whether this will possibly dismiss the concept of two species again.

Since the aim of all studies of cryptic species complexes is to find distinctive differences in the areas of morphology, ecology or barcoding (or all approaches together) that distinguish one species from all others, ultimately clearly definable, very closely related species remain in case of successful studies.

If the cryptic organisms are members of an organism-socialization, such as parasites and their hosts, the idea that a proven host specificity can be an indicator for a certain species of a cryptic complex is obvious. In fact, Wirth et al. (2016) for example postulated a host specificity for the phoretic mite Histiostoma piceae and its hosts, the bark beetles Ips typographus and I. cembrae. Nevertheless, relationships between associated species are usually not studied extensively enough to be able to unequivocally identify certain species on the basis of for example their hosts (Wirth, 2004).

Since cryptic species represent nevertheless separate species despite their extraordinary similarity, they are subject to the species concepts. As a result, they form different niches and can therefore appear sympatric in the same living space (e. g. McBride et al., 2009). This makes it difficult for biodiversity researchers and systematics to investigate the real numbers of species in such habitats.

If, instead, cryptic species are not sympatric, but distributed in adjacent areas, this can for example indicate that an allopatric species formation has either not been completed for a long time or is even still in the process of speciation (e. g. Gollmann, 1984).

Animal species that have different developmental stages can appear cryptic, i.e.  being morphologically confusingly similar, with regard to all these developmental stages, such as for example certain phoretic free-living nematodes, which then additionally have to be studied ecologically or genetically (e. g. Derycke et al. 2008).

Other species can hardly be distinguished morphologically with regard to a certain developmental stage, which is particularly common, but differ distinctly in other developmental stages, which are more difficult to find. Very similar looking lepidopteran caterpillars of sibling species (e. g. Scheffers et al. 2012) can be more commonly available than their adults, which might be easier to distinguish.

As a specialist for mites of the family Histiostomatidae (Astigmata, Acariformes) I will in my further argumentation refer to my biodiversity studies on these mites and explain the difficult situation for describers of new species based on several specific histiostomatid species, some being phoretically associated with bark beetles and others associated with different coleopterans from muddy sapropel-habitats around ponds in Berlin/Germany.
In connection with these cryptic groups of species, reference should be made to the applied difficulties in connection with biodiversity research. I am referring to the fact that, for a variety of reasons, often only a certain juvenile stage (deutonymph) is used for species descriptions (e. g. Klimov & Khaustov, 2018 B), although cryptic species can occur sympatricly in the same habitat and in many cases not be sufficiently differentiated from one another on the basis of just this one stage.

In Histiostomatidae as in most Astigmata taxa, the deutonymph (in older publications hypopus) represents the phoront, being adapted morphologically and behaviorally in getting dispersed by insects or other arthropods. This instar has no functional mouth, possesses a ventral suckerplate to attach to its carriers and a thicker sclerotization against dehydration. The deutonymph is often collected together with its phoretic host. Bark beetle traps are for example a common source, where dead deutonymphs still on their hosts come from and are subsequently forwarded to acarologists, who then are of course unable to create a mite culture in order to have also adult instars available for species descriptions  (e. g. Klimov & Khaustov, 2018 B) and other taxonomic purposes. This paper shall clarify, why it is instead necessary for a clear species determination to have the deutonymph and additionally at least adults available.

In this publication two cryptic species complexes from the taxon Histiostomatidae (Astigmata) are presented as result of my original scientific work. On the one hand morphologically very similar representatives of the Histiostoma piceae-group, which are originally associated with bark beetles (Scolytinae), on the other hand similar looking representatives, which are bound to insects in the area of ​​the banks of ponds with digested sludge (sapropel). It needs to be emphasized in that context that those herewith introduced two cryptic clades are phylogenetically not closer related to each other.

The presented bark beetle mites (chapter 1 in results) can only be distinguished morphologically by very gradual characteristics, in terms of phoretic deutonymphs as well as in terms of adults. However, there is a tendency towards host specificity (e.g. Scheucher, 1957), which is why there could be a permanent spatial separation of the species despite common occurrence in the same region.

The mites from the sapropel in the area of ​​the pond banks (chapter 2 in results) are presented on the basis of a certain area in Berlin (Germany), where they appeared sympatric. Unlike the bark beetle mites, they are morphologically clearly distinguishable with regard to the adults, but have morphologically very similar deutonymphs, which essentially only differ from one another in degrees.

Based on the representatives of two different cryptic species groups presented in this work, it should be shown that a sufficient range of morphological features for systematic and taxonomic differentiation and characterization of species can only be available if at least two developmental stages of a population can be studied. It is also pointed out that high-resolution optical methods can uncover a possibly systematically relevant variety of morphological features that would otherwise remain hidden. It is suggested that a suspected host specificity cannot always be used to differentiate between very similar species and that cryptic species can be found sympatricly on the same host as well as in the same habitat. The main aim is to show that there is a risk of confusion and a risk of underestimating the existing biodiversity if only the deutonymph is used for taxonomic purposes, just because it is for example easily available, when the host is captured. Nevertheless species descriptions based only on the deutonymphs are unfortunately still surprisingly common.

Due to the lack of sufficient research fundings and a corresponding decrease of experienced specialists, trends to remarkably simplify determinations and species descriptions are about to manifest themselves. Non specialists or less experienced acarologists increasingly try to recognize or describe new species based on the availability of deutonymphs only, because these phoronts are often easily accessible as bycatch of entomological material. It is mistakenly assumed that faster procedures could accelerate the level of scientific knowledge about the biodiversity of astigmatid mites (Wirth, 2004).


Material and Methods


Chapter 1 is an illustration of the current state of my research about a cryptic bark beetle-associated group of species. Problems and questions are additionally shown both on the basis of existing, in part own, literature. Chapter 2 is about four species of Histiostomatidae that were recorded from an old gavelpit area in the urban Berlin forest Grunewald, named „Im Jagen 86“, located 52° 29′ N, 13° 14′ E. This chapter focuses specifically on Histiostoma maritimum, collected between 2002 and 2012 (and also between 1999 and 2000 during my diploma thesis). Besides H. maritimum three other species were found in the same area and habitat: Histiostoma palustre, collected once via deutonymphs from a beetle of Genus Cercyon in 2002 and reared in culture over about two years on moist decomposing potato pieces, Histiostoma litorale, isolated as adults from sapropel mud once in 2002 and Histiostoma n. sp., reared only one generation long from adults to adults in 2019, inside sapropel-mud samples with moss growth and moist decomposing potato pieces.

Mites of H. maritimum were collected as deutonymphs on the beetles Heterocerus fenestratus (rarer on Heterocerus fusculus) and Elaphrus cupreus from sapropel around two ponds in the named area. After different experiments, mites developed successfully on beetle cadavers on 1.5 % water agar in Petri dishes (diameter 5 cm) at room temperature (ca 20°C, summer 2002). Three cultures (one cadaver of C. elaphrus and twice each time two cadavers of H. fenestratus) were observed over a period of about three weeks (additionally small pieces of beef heart were added to all these cultures to maintain suitable food sources). Adult mites were stored in 80 % ethanol for about 5 days and then critical point dried for SEM studies. Photos were taken by an analogous medium size camera via a Philips SEM 515 and later developed. Still unpublished copies from 2002 were scanned in a high 600 dpi solution and as tiffs via a CanoScan Lide 2010 in 2021. Restauration and picture quality improvement were performed via Adobe Lightroom. The areal panorama of the former multiple pond area was captured in September 2018 via a Dji Mavic Pro drone at a height between 30 and 50 m and subsequently modified into black and white.

Setal nomenclature follows Griffiths et al. (1990).



Results:

Seiten: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Cancel Culture as a threat to modern constitutional states – Cancel Culture als Bedrohung für den modernen Rechtsstaat

Cancel Culture is a modern phenomenon mainly coming from the United States and negatively influencing increasingly European countries, such as Germany. A main tool of cancel culture is for me the so called "Me-Too" movement, according to which an accusation against a person does not need a proven evidence any more and preferably immediately harms the accused person existentially. 

A recent case is the medial debate about alleged domestic violence by singer Marilyn Manson, who was accused by actress Evan Rachel Wood of abuse of power and a multiple wise domestic violence. Wood was in a relationship with the singer until 2010. Her detailed public accusation is from 1 February 2021 and was published on her Instagram account. Accusations by other women followed, one of them being model Ashley Lindsay Morgan. 

No proofs and no trials were presented, but Manson was already harmed still the same day of Wood's publication: His record company Loma Vista Recordings immediately announced to cancel all further cooperation with him. The next day, his artist agency CAA parted ways with Manson. He additionally will be retrospectively cut off from the already recorded episodes of "American Gods" and "Creepshow".

I do not know, whether Manson is innocent, but in just states the presumption of innocence applies until the conviction. Seemingly not any more valid in the US, a shame, a picture of a declining moral of a society, for which not even Donald Trump can be blamed any more.

That easy way of cancel culture unfortunately already a longer time ago invaded Germany. Even journalists disregard all common methods of careful journalistic research. Recently for example a journalist named Laura Backes recognized already in the headline of her article in spiegel.de "Es ist: häusliche Gewalt (It is: domestic violence)".

https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/musik/missbrauchsvorwuerfe-gegen-marilyn-manson-es-ist-haeusliche-gewalt-a-5e8b59d9-2a71-4cd8-9e78-e36721c52fad 


And her article ends with "And the solidarity, which Evan Rachel Wood ... and others experience in the public, shows that it is worth taking this step". Normally the German journal "Der Spiegel" is famous for its investigative journalism. This article is a bad example for it.

Singer Marilyn Manson at 2006 Cannes Film Festival, by Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10095246
Deutsche Version
Cancel Culture ist ein modernes Phänomen, das aus den USA kommend zunehmend auch fortschrittliche europäische Länder wie Deutschland infiltriert. Ein wichtiges Instrument der Cancel Culture ist meiner Ansicht nach die sogenannte "Me-Too-" Bewegung, der zufolge die öffentliche Beschuldigung gegen eine Person keiner überprüften Belege mehr bedarf und der beschuldigten Person unverzüglich schwerste existenzielle Schädigungen bereitet.

Ein aktueller Fall ist die mediale Debatte um die vorgebliche häusliche Gewalt, die der Sänger Marilyn Manson mehrfach praktiziert haben soll. Er wurde durch die Schauspielerin Evan Rachel Wood öffentlich des Machtmißbrauchs in der Beziehung sowie schwerer und multipler häuslicher Gewalt bezichtigt. Wood, die mehrere Jahre mit Manson in einer Beziehung liiert war, tat der Öffentlichkeit ihre unbelegten Anschuldigungen am 1. Februar 2021 über ihren Instagram-Kanal kund. Weitere Frauen folgten ihrem Beispiel und äußerten ähnliche Vorwürfe, wie zum Beispiel das Model Ashley Lindsay Morgan. 

Es wurden weder Beweise noch Gerichtsurteile präsentiert, jedoch stellten sich schwerwiegende berufliche und existenzielle Konsequenzen für Manson bereits am selben Tage ein: Die Plattenfirma Loma Vista Recordings kündigte sofort jede Zusammenarbeit mit dem Künstler auf. Am Folgetag trennte sich auch seine Künstleragentur CAA öffentlich von ihm. Zusätzlich soll er aus den bis dahin bereits aufgezeichneten Folgen von "American Gods" und "Creepshow" im Nachhinein herausgeschnitten werden. 

Ich weiß nicht, ob Manson unschuldig ist, aber in modernen Rechtsstaaten gilt die Unschuldsvermutung so lange, bis ein Schuldspruch erfolgt ist. Und genau das scheint inzwischen in den USA keine Gültigkeit mehr zu haben, was eine Schande ist. Es entsteht so nämlich das Bild einer Gesellschaft mit zunehmend rückläufigen Moralvorstellungen, das man inzwischen auch beim besten Willen nicht mehr Donald Trump in die Schuhe schieben kann. 

Der einfache Weg, unliebsame Menschen aus dem Wege zu räumen, den man eben neudeutsch als Cancel Culture bezeichnet, ist seit einiger Zeit leider auch in Deutschland angekommen. Selbst Journalisten können heutzutage unter Verzicht auf alle gängigen Methoden der guten journalistischen Praxis zuschlagen. Heute hat zum Beispiel eine Journalistin namens Laura Backes in Form eines dort als "Analyse" bezeichneten Artikels eine Cancel-Tirade gegen Marilyn Manson und eine Lobeshymne auf die "Mee-Too-" Bewegung auf spiegel.de veröffentlicht. Das Ergebnis ihrer investigativen Analyse nimmt sie gleich in der Überschrift des Beitrages vorweg: "Es ist: häusliche Gewalt". 
 
https://www.spiegel.de/kultur/musik/missbrauchsvorwuerfe-gegen-marilyn-manson-es-ist-haeusliche-gewalt-a-5e8b59d9-2a71-4cd8-9e78-e36721c52fad 

Ihr Artikel endet mit den Worten: "Und die Solidarität, die Evan Rachel Wood, Ashley Lindsay Morgan und die anderen in der Öffentlichkeit erfahren, zeigt, dass es sich lohnt, diesen Schritt zu gehen." Normalerweise ist der Spiegel bekannt für seinen investigativen Journalismus. Leider ist dieser Beitrag alles andere als ein gutes Beispiel hierfür.



Copyrights for both written article versions in English and German: Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin 4 February 2021

Berlin: Arthropod diversity in 2020 (Corona year)

I documented my nature excursions in 2020 via photography and videography with a special focus to animal macros (outside in the field) and to drone flights. There is also an underwater scenery existing. Most footage was recorded in the area between villages Lübars and Rosenthal in Northern Berlin, close to the nature refuge „Tegeler Fliess“.

The area is characterized by fields, meadows and forest parts and lays along the former GDR wall, today being a hiking and biking trail. Due to a connected mosaic of different ecological habitats, a remarkable biodiversity can there be found, even despite of the worldwide species‘ extinction based on a mostly human made global warming.

My videographic review of the second part of the Corona-year 2020, focussed on arthropod life on meadows in Northern Berlin, all copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Some few sequences were recorded in other parts of the green city Berlin, namely in the park of the Charlottenburg Palace (beginning sequences of the video) and in urban park Rehberge und Plötzensee (the leaf beetle Galeruca tanaceti in Plötzensee and the scarabaeid beetle – systematically related to genus Cremastocheilus- in Rehberge). Crematocheilus (Cetoniinae) is a genus of myrmecophilous beetles. My individuals were not yet determined, Their existence in Berlin might be even of scientific interest. As putative phoretic vector (to carry mites for their dispersal), they are at least of interest for me, although the studied three beetle individuals did not carry mites at all. The beetles were all found in front of an ant nest intrance (Lasius niger) along the roots of an oak tree in park Rehberge.

As my scientific/ photographic/ videographic excursions happened in exactly that year, 2020, in which the normal human life came worldwide totally out of order based on the covid-19 pandemic, I decided to add this topic to the concept of my video. The video presents nature footage from my visit in the correct seasonal order, beginning with May and June, followed by July, then September/October. In front of each of those months-blocks, I added at that time some important recent news headlines about the corona-pandemic. I named these written parts „corona calendar“. The few December sequences are only dedicated to human street life, showing Berlin in the total lockdown phase, being filmed in black and white (with red recognition).

Berlin, 2 January 2021, all copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Ant Lasius fuliginosus: Winged alates and insect/mite nest cohabitants

Ants usually reproduce via mating flights. So also the black wood ant Lasius fuliginosus, whose nest I discovered in the Berlin urban park „Rehberge“, where it was (and is) located in the depth under a spruce tree stump. I filmed them under favorable (climatic) for mating flights.

In some cases workers needed to force them to stay out. This behavior is well visible in my film.

Do ants live alone inside their nests? No, not at all. Numerous non-ant-organisms are adapted in living with them, using all kinds of tricks to be not attacked by the ant workers. A known example is the beetle Amphiotis marginata. Where do they reproduce, where does the offspring lives and develops? Semingly according to science and researcher Prof. B. Hölldobler still partly unknown. I also cannot contribute much. But: An undetermined larva of the same family, Nitidulidae, was found to be active under fruit bodies of the fungus Trametes versicolor on the nest top, adjacent to a beetle pupa (not known, whether the same species or family). When exposed to the ant trail near the fungus, the nitidulid larva was attacked, but not caught and was seemingly sufficiently defensive without a visible activity, thus may be chemically. The behavior is visible in my footage. The pupa in contrary was caught and carried away by the ant workers.

Numerous other insects, many mite species and nematodes inhabit ant nests. But some might just occasionally get in contact with a „suddenly“ forming ant nest colony, being remnants may be from former conditions, and nevertheless persist the passing ants on their crowded trails. Two species of mites of the Astigmata seemed to belong to that kind of cohabitants.

According to the visible different galleries of bark attacking insects, it is assumed that this was the way, how these mites came to their place on the inside of the (still partly well intact being) bark of the spruce stump, may be indicating that it was not too long ago felled down. Most conspicuous were the irregular shaped galleries of the bark beetle Dryocoetes autographus (Scolytinae), partly still equipped with remnants of dead beetle individuals. As typical secondary bark infesting insect, this beetle prefers harmed or dead wood. And might have been there already before or while the ant nest grew.

Film about ant Lasius fuliginosus in a park in Berlin with nest cohabitants, 2020, all copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

The mites were found free or attached to a wood insect on: the inside of the bark, which the ants use as major trail to access their main nest in the depth, means much ant fluctuation. But there was no clear indication for a direct phoretic interaction with the ants, because species one was only found as one deutonymph attached to another insect host, species 2 in different instars, rather no further ant-transport necessary.

Species one: a deutonymph on an undetermined beetle larva, later isolated and filmed via light microscope in motion. Seemingly belonging to Acaridae. Species two: two or three free deutonymphs and two tritonymphs close to bark beetle remnants, being Histiostomatidae, seemingly Histiostoma dryocoeti Scheucher, 1957. Due to the filming activities and the few mites, no slides were prepared, determinations are based on light microscopic footage and photos of living (thus not cleared) individuals. Scheucher’s description is bad and lacks juveniles, males and the female’s dorsum, the deutonymph’s drawing is almost sketch-like. Already for that reason, I determine my mites as Histiostoma cf. dryocoeti. being determined basically based on the deutonymph. Also because I could not see all important deutonymphal details, but the shape (smurf-house-roof-shaped, dorsal view) of the proterosoma, the entire body proportions, the pattern of dorsal setae (as far as visible on the photos) and especially their shape (like typically for bark-beetle-histiostomatids more or less directed forewards, but distinctly shorter than normally) as well as the leg shapes (distal end similar to Scheucher’s drawings) and the rather small rounded suckerplate and the short palposoma (ending with or before dorsal proterosoma) fit more or less to her description. The seemingly corresponding tritonymphs were not described by her, but according to my research fit at least to bark-beetle-species (dorsal structures). But paired posterior elongations are visible and might (not necessarily) indicate similar structures in adult females too, while Scheucher doesn’t show the female dorsum at all and just writes „no special features existing“ about it. Thus the tritonymphal morphology forces me to name the species with „cf.“ even more. The tritonymphal mouthparts (palparmembrane) seemingly show lateral elongations (almost fitting to Scheucher’s description).

I filmed on one day directly on the nest, mites were recorded the same day and subsequent days (end May, beginning June)at home using a light microscope with upper light and a stereo microscope.

Berlin, December 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Copulation details of snail Cornu aspersum (4K)

I collected two specimens of the land snail Cornu aspersum from an old olive grove in the city Sorrento (Gulf of Naples, Italy) in April 2019. The land molluscs could be found in that spring season in and under flat stones and smaller rocks. They shared this habitat with bgger diplopodes of genus Julidae and the harvestman Trogulus tingiformis.

The snails are until today successfully kept in a terrarium with sufficient moisture and regular food consisting of vegetable pieces. They share the terrarium with some specimens of diplopods from the original location in Italy.

Cornu aspersum mating, film made in Berlin, all copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

The snails go in a strict diapause several times a year for weeks or months, when temperatures in Berlin grow over 20°C . After getting active again on a colder period, they often quite immediately begin to mate. My video only focuses on details of such mating procedures, especially the spermatheca transfer. I decided to cut as less as possible and to present longer sequences of copulation activities, as they have due to slow slime exchange movements and rhythmical motions a special aesthetics. I additionally intended to show that scientific behavioral studies generally require patience and time as well as interest and fascination for aspects of life.

Cornu aspersum mates reciprocally, which means that both partners transfer a sperm package and produce ovules. The mating of my footage was successful (not visible in my video), and about 20-30 young snails hatched after about 2.5 weeks after egg deposition.

Aspects of mating and copulation in Cornu aspersum are quite well scientifically studied. For example: the variation in spermathecal morphology does not depend on the sperm competition intensity in populations (E. Koemtzopoulos & A. Staikou (Zoology 110 (2), 139-146, 2007); aspects of courtship and copulation were studied by S. A. Adamo and R. Chase (Canadian Journal of Zoology 66(6): 1446-1453, 2011). According to the latter authors the typical mating behavior has a duration of about 421.8 minutes and consists of three major parts: introductory behavior, dart shooting and copulation. My video concentrates only on part 3.

Berlin August 2019 – 10 June 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Ant cricket and beetle Amphotis marginata in a nest of Lasius fuliginosus

The ant Lasius fuliginosus builts its nests into wooden environments, for example tree stumps. In the depth it is shaped by a carton-like substance, produced by the ants and with a „domesticated“ fungus involved. When ant workers leave the nests on trails, marked with pheromones, they might seek for food (mostly aphid secretions) in distances up to 30 meters. In the area around the nest, so called foraging trails are especially busy, as different kinds of foraging substances need to be carried in, in order to feed the fungus, in order to create new cartonage and in order to feed queen, nest mates and offspring.

Such a foraging trail is of course a very attractive place for invaders (non ant species) to either capture some food from the workers on their ways into the nest, or even to attach to these workers to get a ride inside the nest too, interesting for brood parasites for example, but also for all kinds of organisms, which prefer nest micro climatic conditions and want to be additionally secured or at least tolerated by the ants. All these organisms, such as insects, mites or nematodes, even pseudoscorpions, need to have specific adaptations in order to be not attacked by the ants.

Film about nest cohabitants of Lasius fuliginosus, Berlin 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Three examples are presented in my video. The ant cricket Myrmecophilus acervorum is a common inhabitant of different ant species. Here I found it while „walking in row and order with the ants“. That unusual tiny cricket is assumed to be able to adopt the „smell“ of a nest, which is why ant workers accept it around them. I discovered the specimen of my footage in a later afternoon (around 18:00 in May 2020) directly on top of the tree stump, in which the nest is hidden (in the depth). There it directly followed ants within their foraging walk to the nest entrances. It was directly walking with them in a row and seemed to imitate additionally antennae movements of ants. It after a while left the row of ants (unharmed and without getting a special attention) and went into a hideaway on the side of the tree stump. Generally, there is not much known about the biology of this cricket. There is evidence that it feeds on food and even brood of the ants.

Another ant trail invader is the tiny beetle Amphiotis marginata (Nitidulidae), which performs behaviors, which make its stay inside foraging trails of ants (seemingly associated with Lasius fuliginosus only) even necessary: Hölldobler & Kwapich (2017) had studied this beetle and its behaviors in detail. According to their findings, the beetle shows a complex behavior to beg for food from passing-by antworkers. Movements of its antennae are an important part of such a contact and might in the optimal case lead to a response by the ant to antennate back to the beetle’s head, and subsequently the beetle might be fed as if it were an ant conspecific. The authors describe that a beetle is not always successful. In the best case, hectic ants on their way home might simply oversee the invader (kleptoparasite), in the worst case, they might detect it as a stranger and would then attack it. For protection, the beetle is able to closely adhere to the ground with its claws, while the side edges of its elytrae are shaped downward to the ground. This way, ants are unable to lift such a beetle up and would continue their ways after a while. Hölldobler and Kwapich also mention that they observed cases, in which ants were nevertheless able to lift detected beetles up and then cut their legs off, which means the end of the beetles adventurous life. The beetle specimen in my footage found a bad position aside to an ant path, which was such busy that it was overseen and even unable to approach single workers to beg for food. The authors above found some indications that the beetle’s larvae might develop inside ant nests.

As an acarologist, I am of course interested in mites, which are associated with ant nests. I in detail was involved in research about non-native ants: in the USA (Lousiana) I did research about the leafcutter ant Atta texana and the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta, all in cooperation with John C. Moser. I even described a new species of astigmatid mites from S. invicta. I also did some unpublished research on native ants and thus know that also Lasius fuliginosus possesses greater numbers of mite-associates (Parasitiformes and Acariformes). As an example given in this video, we see a rather big mite of the Mesostigmata (Parasitiformes), which I could not determine closer based on my footage. Mesostigmata generally can appear as phoretic organisms (feeding for example on nematodes or mites inside the ant nests, but being carried by ant workers there), they can also invade by themselves and might appear as brood or kleptoparasites. The mite in my footage walked directly on the ant trail without being harmed. It might be like the ant cricket able to adopt ant nest scents to be protected.

Berlin, Plötzensee/ Rehberge, May 2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

Macro Life in urban Parks of Berlin

Berlin is a green city. Each district has several urban parks of different sizes. Besides Tiergarten and Tempelhofer Feld in the center and South of Berlin, the northern district Wedding has an unusually large park area, the „Rehberge“ (originally connected with Schillerpark and Goethepark), which is based on several sand dunes as relicts of the last glacial period. Before the responsible governmental institutions began in the 1920th to create a large city park with sports and nature sites, the sand hills were connected by extended swamps. Today the park, to which also the location Plötzensee is belonging, consists of a mosaic of different habitat types. A cut meadow area is made for people to rest or to practice sports of all kind. Adjacent lay forest areas with partly conifers mostly, wild growing (dry) meadows, sandy areas and wetlands (around ponds and lake Plötzensee).

my film about arthropod biodiversity in the first half of 2020, all copyrights Stefan F. Wirth

There is quite a remarkable biodiversity inhabiting this urban nature refuge. Besides aquatic organisms and birds, arthropods, gastropods, lichens, mosses and different taxa of flowering plants inhabit the „Rehberge“. I did not try for this video project to seek for very rare species. Instead I just intended to record some (more or less) common macro life examples. Main purpose was a camera move through the park focused on the unusual perspective to the tiny life forms. Species names are visible underneath in the corresponding video parts.

Copyrights Stefan F. Wirth, Berlin, Rehberge/ Plötzensee, May 2020

Bullying by the Museum of Natural History in Berlin/ Mobbing durch das Berliner Naturkundemuseum?

This article is about a conflict since 2013 until today that I had and still have with the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, which I already accused in 2013 to perform a (homophobically motivated) bullying against me. In 2019 I finally complained to the petition committee of the Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus. They sent me statements from the museum management, Prof. Dr. Vogel, regarding my complaints, and according to that, they do not deny the bullying accusation, but stated :

"You have never been an employee of the museum and are therefore not under
 the scope of the General Equal Treatment Act"

As I felt since 2013 so heavily bullied by that institution and in such an intensity that I despite of my very good CV-reputation could never receive any employment in a German research institution at all (abroad I could once). I in 2019 had asked at least for a certification by the museum that I worked with them for some years, wrote several peer-review publications for them and even organized the loaning of a very expensive light-microscope (Zeiss-Axiophot) from the FU Berlin for my use and the use of Dr. Jason Dunlop from the Museum of Natural History. The certification had helped to limit further bullying influences, when recently applying to research positions. Prof. Vogel answered to the petition committee the following regarding that point:

"A certificate can not be issued, 
as you are not entitled to receive a certificate based on your
voluntary work in the museum"

A remarkable part of my mite specimens consisting of holo- and paratypes as well as voucher specimens is part of the museum collection being curated by Dr. Jason Dunlop. The museum denies me access to that material with one short interruption since 2013. I loaned that material to the museum, material, which I collected and prepared based on my private income only. The museum was asked in my petition to return it to me.

"You had been given the opportunity to examine the described
 
reference material from mites for your work. Another access to the museum
however, cannot be granted to you."

The mite material represents my so far lifework. To discover new species like Histiostoma palustre from Berlin or Histiostoma blomquisti from the red imported fire ant in Louisiana (USA), I invested all my energy, my sweat, my time, and in case of my ant work even my blood. The Museum of Natural History excludes me from the results of my own heavy productivity. the text indicates that the museum, represented by Prof. Vogel, has a right to decide about material, which I consider my property. I do not have a contract nor was I ever paid for these mite objects, I just rent them to the museum. I had repeatedly asked to receive my material back, as not only my access to it is denied by the museum, but and also the access for other scientists is limited.

"The collections of the Museum für Naturkunde 
in Berlin are indeed a scientific infrastructure,

but they are not a public body for those working in science or for
other interested parties with an unrestricted access."

My intention was and is to transfer the types and vouchers permanently to another museum, which allows me and other scientists access to it, that my material can be a well suitable support for future scientific interests and research by me and others. I additionally doubt that the material is treated adequately as Mr. Dunlop is arachnologist, but no acarologist. The petition committee and the committee of „Regierender Bürgermeister von Berlin“ stated about the property conditions of my mite-collection:

"The ownership of those specific exhibits cannot be conclusively judged 
(decided) from here (our side). To this extent,
only the ordinary legal action can answer this question."

I thus via this article ask lawyers with corresponding experiences to support me in this context, which I consider being a property offence even with the purpose to harm my public reputation! Committed lawyers please contact me via twitter private message.

What had happened originally to feel bullied by the museum and the former colleague Mr. Dr. Jason Dunlop?

I applied in June 2012, recommended by a colleague, who was researcher at the Karl-Franzens-Universität in Graz (Austria), for an official tender for a lecturer position at his university, the Karl-Franzens-Universität. The colleague G. was seemingly not sure about the integrity of the application procedure, as he wrote on 18.06.2012 at 7:37 am:

„Es ist auch nicht sicher, ob Herr S… (I shortened the full name, S. Wirth) für die Stelle nicht schon jemanden im Auge hat; also bitte erwarte Dir nicht zuviel.

It is also not certain whether Mr. S... 
(I shortened the name, S. Wirth) already has someone in
 mind for the position; so please don't expect too much."

I applied nevertheless believing in a fair process. But I indeed was officially informed that I didn’t get the position despite of my high reputation via Email on 06.08.2012 at 7:29 pm. Subsequently I asked for an explication for not having been chosen as candidate. I received an answer on 9.08.2012 at 12:33 pm by Mrs. C. H.-R.:

„Ich darf in diesem Zusammenhang betonen, dass diese Auswahlentscheidung auch vom Arbeitskreis für Gleichbehandlungsfragen der Universität bestätigt wurde.

In this context, I would like to emphasize 
that this selection decision was also confirmed by
 the university's work group for equal treatment."

That meant for me that the decision officially was made by preference for a person of female gender. I first asked for reasons not to be selected. Later additionally I complained against so called „equal treatment“ on 10.08.2012 to Mrs. R. with the words:

„…. Um den Verdacht auszuräumen, dass die Ausschreibung nur eine Formalität war, also eine Schein-Ausschreibung, und dass in Wirklichkeit jemand aus den eigenen Reihen die Stelle bekommen hat (und dies möglicherweise von vornherein feststand), bitte ich hiermit darum, mir mitzuteilen, wer die Stelle bekommen hat….

In order to dispel the suspicion that the 
job advertisement was only a formality, i.e. a sham job advertisement,
 and that in reality someone from your own ranks
got the position (and this may have been determined in advance),  
I hereby ask you to let me know who got the job."

I got an answer only to my first question from that Mr. S., who is mentioned in the mail from 18.06.2012 at 7:37 further above. The answer is from 09.08.2012 at 8:16 pm:

„… Ich habe mir die Auswahl der Kandidatin bzw. des Kandidaten für diese Stelle nicht leicht gemacht. Es war in der Tat sehr knapp und Sie wären mit Sicherheit an Nummer 1 oder 2 gereiht worden, wenn bei dieser Ausschreibung die wissenschaftliche Erfahrung bzw. Leistung im Vordergrund gestanden wäre. Wir haben eine befristete und nicht verlängerbare Halbtags-Lecturerstelle besetzt, wo natürlich die spezifische Erfahrung in Bezug auf die abzuhaltenden Lehrveranstaltungen im Vordergrund war und hier waren andere KandidatInnen näher am Fach. So ist das nun einmal. …

...I didn't make it easy for myself to
 select the candidate for this position. It was indeed very tight and you would certainly have
 been ranked number 1 or 2 if the focus of this tender had been on scientific experience or performance. 
We have filled a temporary and non-extendable half-day lecturer position, where of
 course the specific experience in relation to 
the courses to be held was in the foreground and
 here other candidates were closer to the subject. That's the way it is....

I got never an official answer, who the position got, except of that it was a female candidate. but I already had before asked the colleague G. , who had answered already on 06.08. 2012 at 3:06 pm:

„Hi Stefan,

…wahrscheinlich darf ich das gar nicht mitteilen, deshalb bitte vertraulich behandeln, bis es offiziell ist: …… B… (I shortened the female name, S. Wirth), eine E. (i shortened the name, S. Wirth)-Schülerin.

... I am probably not allowed to tell you,
 so please keep it confidential until it is official:
 ... B.(I shortened the female name), 
an E. student (I shortened the name of a professor
 of the same institution, a direct colleague of Mr. S. from above)."

Shocked by this mixture of by me perceived inbreeding, corruption and gender discrimination, I complained finally against the whole candidate finding procedure and officially asked for the repetition of the whole procedure, based on the fact that I am homosexual, and because homosexual men are more discriminated than women. The repetition application was approved, but it only (of course) confirmed the first decision.

Subsequently I perseived something like „a bomb“ of bullying activities against me in the German-spoken countries, especially in Berlin from side of the Museum of natural History, where I was volunteer (ehrenamtlicher Mitarbeiter) and where I had my official scientific affiliation, which I used to name in my scientific publications and from side of the FU Berlin (only periodically), where I was still teaching courses in evolutionary biology and ecology. but the worst consequences came from the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, where I had published already in 9 November 2011 a very successful paper with much international attention together with Dr. Jason Dunlop and technical scientists from Manchester (UK) :

Dunlop1  J. A., Wirth1 S., Penney2 D.,  McNeil3  A., Bradley3R.S., Withers3 P. J.,Preziosi2 R. F. (2011): A tiny phoretic mite deutonymph in Baltic amber recovered by X-ray computed tomography. Biology letters doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0923.

Apart from not being named as a first author together with Mr. Dunlop, which I only finally was informed about in 2013, as the small numbers on top of the author’s names seemed me to indicate an equal level of authorship, but it came out that it just referred to the same author’s address and apart from my name not being mentioned in the English-written press-releases of that very successful paper (about the tiniest animal ever in Baltic amber examined in a high resolution ct-magnification without the need to harm the amber itself) my name was from end 2012 to 23 September 2013 10:30 am entirely removed from side-publications of the same paper, especially in a poster presentation on the poster itself (much delayed finally added to it) and the corresponding online-abstract-publication (until 23 September 2013 10:30 am never added to it). A corresponding poster award, given by the Museum of Natural History, was not given too me at first, but to the other authors. I got it much delayed on my strict demand only.

I complained against these happenings and interpreted them as homophobically motivated bullying with a direct context to my complaints to the Karl-Franzes-University, where I had officially outed myself as gay and had officially criticized a perceived unclean application-procedure, being additionally based on gender unequality. My complaint referred in major parts to the happenings subsequently to the happenings in Graz. But I additionally considered the previous unexpected second authorship (I did all scientific work regarding the mite fossil interpretation including all paintings and most text parts, as I am and was the only expert for this group of mites in Germany) and the deletion of my name from international press releases as bullying too. This part of bullying as result of a harsh elbow mentality and putatively homophobic too, as there was a rumor of my homosexuality circulating at the FU before, as the female phd-student N.W. had interrogated me on a Christmas-celebration event in detail about my from her side assumed homosexuality.

As I got no excuses nor any compensations from side of the museum or from Mr. Dunlop, I partly needed to find harsh words to criticize, what happened to me from side of the museum (later also from side of the FU Berlin, but from there only periodically, they in 2019 wrote me without any difficulties a certification for my work in their house). Subsequently and finally in 23 September 2013 I was invited to a conference about my accusations by Mr. S. Junker (until today „Geschäftsführer Naturkundemuseum“) and some other witnesses. They did not intend to excuse, what happened to me, but let me know that I was no first author of the paper and thus had no rights about it. I then presented a print of the still in that time online published poster abstract being entirely without my name, which seemingly was unknown to the the people of that conference and also seemingly shocked them too. There was a visible feeling of unjustice noticeable in their faces, but still no excuses nor any try of compensation. I lately on this conference had announced to leave the museum based on these happenings and about a week later picked up all my belongings from there. Equipped with that harsh feeling of being bullied and of a general unjustice, I never did one step into that museum again. Except of once, where I needed to visit a further away building, belonging to it in order to receive the holotype of my species Bonomoia opuntiae, which I loaned for some time. I needed much to fight for that option, as my wish to see it was repeatedly denied. I then got it in harmed conditions. They excused that by saying it would sometimes happen to glycerine-slides (what I still doubt about), and I finally returned it in the same conditions. That is, what Mr. Vogel meant with writing that I once enough had had the opportunity to examine „the material“ for my scientific work. I never again got access to my own mite material. A terrible punishment for someone, who had invested all his life time into his acarological work.

To the petition commettee, Mr Vogel argued the restriction of access to my material in 2019 with the following words:

"You had to be banned from the house in 2013,
 because you were facing the 
museum staff continued in inappropriate
and expressed insulting ways 
so that they felt threatened."

I was never in a written or a spoken way informed about such a ban to enter the house. Because of such a lack, a house ban did never happen. It was imposed subsequently in 2019. According to my perseption based on the will to negatively influencing my scientific reputation. Even in the situation, in which me as a victim I got no excuse or compensation, nobody had trusted additionally to even impose a penalty in those times. I never threatened somebody in my life, thus this is a mean defamation, and additionally my communication against the strongly perceived bullying cannot be named inappropriate at all. from the point of legal justice, in this context the term „felt“ is most important. Unfortunately, everybody can feel something, even, when it is not there. If you have a reason to feel threatened, you officially report an offence. If you just want to bully: say you felt threatened in public. Me as an intellectual and as a person, well known for his passion for nature research, has nothing to do with performing offences or feelings of being threatened. Bullying is a crime. I herewith want to refer to one of my last articles about bullying. But in Germany, it is not a crime according to criminal law. This makes it a perfect weapon to eliminate unwanted people.

But what is the sense of bullying from today back into the past by imposing a house ban, which in fact did not exist in this past, sounds not very efficiently, doesn’t it? That’s why Mr. Vogel needed a second paragraph to this topic, this time directed to the future:

"Also taking into account the rules
for good scientific practice
a weighting of interests by the museum management 
...came to the result that the concerns of 
the employees of the Museums are more worth of being
 protected.The house ban is therefore upheld."

i interpret this statement as admission that the Museum of natural history in Berlin and Mr. Vogel acted aware and on purpose against the rules for good scientific practice. I as I said of course I did never threatened anybody and even everybody knows that, let’s not talk about, what they felt again, let’s talk about, what happened. After many years even to „upheld“ a house ban (elongation of a non existing ban in the past) is the most easiest way of bullying. One just needs to say to colleagues on a conference something like „Oh, Mr. so-and-so? He has a house ban in our institute. Do I need to say more?“. Very efficiently and fully destroying! Can I fight against the life-time house ban as basis for the denied access to my own mite collection? The petition committee answered this in the same document with no:

"The museum management is responsible
for exercising domiciliary rights within the framework of 
 their duties at discretion." 

That means, in that case there is no option for legal actions against a house ban existing, because there are no legal reasons necessary to ban somebody from a house. It simply means for me and my perception: Bullying goes on!

But what about the facts? All happenings around the paper about the amber fossil? To that topic Mr. Vogel answered to the petition committee as follows:

"The museum had your other allegations
checked by an ombudsman, who
came to the conclusion that no scientific 
 misconduct by scientists
of the museum happened."

Who was this „ombudsman“, who decided that publishing an abstract with my drawings, my private photo of the recent mite Histiostoma blomquisti and with my text passages, and all that without my name at all is NO misconduct by the corresponding scientist(s)? Was this ombudsman the cleaning woman of the museum, who thus could earn some extra-salary? Or is the important information in this statement the term „of the museum“? Does it mean, it would be of course a misconduct, when performed by any scientists, but not, when they belong to the museum staff? As Mr. Vogel intends to keep all critical eyes away from the reputation of his famous museum? I subsequently instructed an ombudsman-committee (a legal and well known in scientific fields one) from my side too. I unfortunately am not allowed to publish details of the corresponding correspondence. But the correspondence is well saved. Purpose of my ombudsman-committee was only about to get my mite collection permanently transferred to another museum. I then rejected their indeed finally small success, according to which the collection would have been loaned to another museum for the duration of two years, as fully inappropriate.

But why would the management of the Museum of Natural History react in such unacceptable and harming ways on my complaints from 2013 about a specific researcher and its behaviors against me? My answer is: bullying is the most used weapon in Germany, but it exists nowhere. Institutions fear for their reputation and seemingly even prefer the destruction of the reputation of the victims. My life and career is since 2013 remarkably harmed. I just survive based on my enormous energy and productivity and passion for research. I herewith ask my readers for support. Wherever I apply to in the field of scientific research or museum work, it is denied without invitations at least for a first interview. Is there anybody out there, who has a feeling for justice and even made bad experiences with bullying and seemingly corrupt position procedures in the world of natural sciences, especially biology him/herself? Please contact me via private message on twitter.

German written relevant part of the document from the petition committee of Berlin from 2019, which includes the English citations in my text.

Homophobic tendencies are unfortunately generally widespread in the fields of evolutionary biology. On 3 August 2020 the well known evolutionary biologist from the university of Kassel, Prof. Ulrich Kutschera, was sentenced by a trial for insulting homosexuals by bringing them close to pedophilia to pay a penalty of 6000 Euro.

The judgment is not yet legally binding.

He in detail stated besides other things in an interview with the catholic church (Internet portal kath.net):

„Sollte das Adoptionsrecht für Mann-Mann bzw. Frau-Frau-Erotikvereinigungen kommen, sehe ich staatlich geförderte Pädophilie und schwersten Kindesmissbrauch auf uns zukommen.

Should the adoption rights come for man-man or woman-woman 
erotic associations, I see state-sponsored pedophilia
 and serious child abuse coming our way. "

I had much email communication with U. Kutschera about male homosexuality in general and his assumed case of a tendency towards pedophilia under certain circumstances. He could not prove based on serious scientific findings his incredible theories to me!

But back to the topic of bullying:

Let’s play a little game with you, my readers: Just theoretically, imagine the author of this article would apply to the position offer of the museum of natural history in Potsdam, just because his CV according to his professional self-assessment exactly fits, to what they are looking for? Would he have a chance to be at least invited for a first interview? Let’s indeed regard it as a given fact that his qualifications are fitting very, very good to the job profile. So: Would he be invited?…. What? So many readers voting for „no“? Why? What did you say?…. „Because he is „gay“? Oh, no…..no,no,…. that one goes too far „because he even might be a pedophilist and because state-sponsored pedophilia needs to be prevented“. Ah….please again! That one is interesting:… „because he fights against bullying, which he perceives to have happened against him from another museum of natural history very nearby and because he is gay“. Really interesting, but I have a question: Where should he apply then, always under the conditions of very well fitting qualifications?….. I see, so you mean „may be in a small and isolated village in the Bavarian Alps, inhabited by non-conservative-religious people, let’s say a neo-hippie-community, who pays his scientific work with home grown potatoes“?…… I agree, but still, I have doubts…. What did you recommend? ….“Not Germany and no well known countries at all“? But where then?….. „Timbuktu“? ?? Why not! I like this idea very much.

Citations in my text out of the document from the petition committee of Berlin about my complaints against Naturkundemuseum Berlin were changed from indirect speech to direct speech, staying in the second person singular.

Mite Histiostoma blomquisti. Its holotype is not accessible for me in the collection of the Museum of Natural History Berlin. Copyrights: Stefan F. Wirth

Dr. Stefan Wirth, 19 December 2020

Germany on the way from a part-lockdown to a full-lockdown?

Leaders of the German national subsidiaries and the federal government, above all the chancellor Merkel, ask for stricter contact limitations. Although the current conditions in form of a part-lockdown as reaction to increasing numbers of covid-19-infections throughout Germany restrict numbers of people, who are allowed to meet up inside or outside as well as the numbers of households, to which they belong, already remarkably. All public places for socializing and cultural activities are closed, also sport clubs, public swimming trainings or outdoor sport activities in greater groups are impossible. That means, bars, cafés, restaurants are closed. Theaters and opera houses as well. Especially „smaller“ stage artists suffer existentially.

Only the german football (soccer) is still omni-present in the news reports. I don’t know why. Seemingly their games can happen under limited circumstances. I am not interested in football at all. It is also not football, which is since the beginning of the human evolution a major fundament of our societies, it’s art. Art is not only creativity, it also stands for legal criticism against all aspects of social and political interactions. Thus something important is missing. And private life? It is already in the recent part-lockdown harmed in a way, that acts against the human biology as social primates. Not only old people in retirement homes live almost under conditions of a dentation centre, also single-persons of all ages, living in smaller apartments, need to tolerate loneliness. The Homo sapiens is a social species, too much isolation can cause longtime-damages, emotionally, psychologically, in case of older people even physically. Not to forget those citizens without any kind of home. The many homeless people, especially in Berlin, are very sensible victims of recent restrictions. Are all these risks, the Germans actually are exposed to, worth to happen? I think yes, they are, if it is for a limited time and under circumstances, which do not cause more damages than the virus infections themselves. It is fact that the new corona virus can be harmful to people of all ages, especially when there are significant medical histories existing. But as all these sanctions represent limitations of our basic laws, it is important that all these limitations are reversed when the pandemic is over.

Critical questions are allowed. They are also important and necessary. And you even do not need to be a believer of modern religious movements like Qanon. I for example ask for the relevance of indirect contacts between individuals for the still too high infection numbers. When I see super markets, forcing their clients to use shopping baskets or trolleys without employees existing, who desinfect each of them before and after use, then I hear the virus clapping amused its non existing hands: „We couldn’t get you so far? Here we are, left behind from hundreds of people per day, who touched this basket or this trolley before!“ Are such contra- productive rules necessary, even when the argument is that baskets and cars force a proper distance between customers? Also in U-Bahn cars (subway etc.), trams or busses, an indirect virus transfer between passengers needs to be much better prevented . Shouldn’t it be possible to employ people, who permanently walk through the cars and desinfect seats and handrails whenever possible?

As a natural scientist and active researcher as well as reviewer for scientific journals I know that statistics generally bear many reasons for critical questions. It can easily happen that submitted natural-scientific papers in peer-review journals are rejected by the reviewers based on doubtful or insufficient or even wrong statistical methods. We read or hear in the news permanently about growing incidence numbers. Many people might think that these are given facts, about which questions or critical remarks are not appropriate or necessary. Based on the limited informations via the popular media, the following questions are very sure and from a scientific point of view of interest: How many people of a specific region, for example a district of Berlin, were tested and how many were not? In case of higher numbers of non-tested citizens, statistical means need to be used in order to extrapolate to the whole population of the corresponding region. It is important that a statistical variance within the tested people is guaranteed. There would for example be a lack of a sufficient variance, if it came out that specific genders or specific occupational groups had more reasons or even forces to participate test procedures than others. Statistical tests always have a defined probability of errors. But more and illegitime errors can for examples be added, when research institutions need to provide a defined high number of data in a defined period of time, especially when the procedure is well paid and „success“ thus economically important. According to my knowledge and experiences, scientific studies can only be finished, when they are finished. Evaluations in defined time periods with defined numbers of sample sizes are prone to error. I know from commercial institutions for market and opinion research that the time pressure is often or sometimes used for the disadvantage of a sufficient variation of test persons. Some facilitate their work by contacting such people for phone interviews, who’s telephone numbers were part of a commercial phone number trading. That means they buy existing phone numbers instead of generating them via a random number generator. Additionally/ or they facilitate statistical methods, which were developed to guarantee a variation of test persons. An example is the „Geburtstagsschlüssel (birthday key)“, which requires from the interviewer to strictly only talk to that person of a household, who was the last to have birthday or alternatively will be the next to celebrate it. If that person, so the rules, is not available, the interview cannot happen. Based on economic interests of the institutions and the time pressure, facilitated versions of the „birthday-key“ are sometimes used. Such as: asking for the birthday person in the household, and if the person is not available interviewing everybody available instead, or even leaving the birthday key completely out. Results of such „manipulated“ evaluations can be representative nevertheless. But they also might not be representative at all. There exist examples for extrapolations of upcoming electoral successes, being far removed from the real situations. What does all this have to do with evaluations about covid-19-infection numbers? I hope that independent sources regularly control the responsible research institutions regarding the proper use of statistical methods even under time pressure conditions.

In case it is made sure that indeed bars, restaurants, theaters and opera houses and not indirect contaminations elsewhere or statistical errors or manipulations cause the permanently high numbers of new infections everywhere in Germany, a total lockdown will be unavoidable. The German government and the federal state representatives will come together for further deliberations still before Christmas. This was announced in the news today. It is important that the decision for stricter measures need to take those groups of the German population under consideration, which might physically, psychologically or financially too much harmed by a full-lockdown over a longer period of time. It furthermore needs to be excluded that participating politicians have other motivations than protecting us from a pandemic virus, such as lust for power, interest in totalitarian experiments or a total lack of empathy.

Berlin, 08.12.2020, copyrights Stefan F. Wirth