PHILADELPHIAThe Academy of Natural Sciences today announced it will give its highest science award to a noted behavioral ecologist who has done more than anyone to document one of the most economically important groups of insectsgrasshoppers.
Dr. Daniel Otte, arguably the world's authority on grasshoppers and a world authority on crickets, will receive the prestigious Joseph Leidy Award for scientific excellence on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Academy, where he has worked as curator of entomology for 35 years. The event is free and open to the public and will include an illustrated presentation by Otte.
Established in 1923, the Leidy Award periodically is given by the nation's oldest natural history museum to recognize exemplary publications, explorations, discoveries or research in the natural sciences. Past recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist E.O. Wilson and evolutionary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant.
Otte, 70, of Swarthmore, is the founder and principal author of Orthoptera Species File, an online catalog of information on all of the world's grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and their relatives, some 24,570 species and counting. With the world's largest collection of grasshoppers and crickets and an outstanding library, the Academy pioneered in the task of placing a catalog of all known species of a major group of insects on the Internet. To Otte, it was a labor of love and his proudest moment in a lifetime of accomplishments.
"These insects are part of the ecosystem, part of the food web," said Otte. "I think they are just as important as we are. They are part of the whole fabric of life."
At a time of climate change and habitat destruction contributing to mass species extinction, making a list of what insect species exist and which have gone extinct is essential. Otte is so tuned in to his critters of choice that he can walk into a forest anywhere in the world and gauge its environmental health by
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The Academy of Natural Sciences