John Pickering

Institute of Ecology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-2602

Phone: 706-542-1115

Updated: 7 June, 2007

Positions and honors:
  • 1984-

Faculty Member
      University of Georgia, Athens
         Department of Entomology (1984-95)
         Institute of Ecology (1994- )
  • 1982-84

Postgraduate Research Entomologist
      Division of Biological Control
      University of California, Berkeley
  • 1981-82

Research Associate
      Division of Entomology & Parasitology
      University of California, Berkeley
  • 1979-81

Miller Postdoctoral Fellow
      Department of Entomological Sciences
      University of California, Berkeley

Selected peer-reviewed publications or manuscripts in press:
  • Pickering, J., Smith, K., Cotter, G., Simpson, A., Magill, B., McNierney, E. 2006. Global Mapper. News report for International Biogeography Society. View electronic copy at
  • Bartlett, R., J. Pickering, I. Gauld and D. Windsor. 1999. Estimating global biodiversity: tropical beetles and wasps send different signals. Ecological Entomology 24: 118-121.
  • Gaasch, C. M., J. Pickering and C. T. Moore. 1998. Flight phenology of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in Georgia's piedmont. Environmental Entomology 27:606-614.
  • Hargrove, W. W. and J. Pickering. 1992. Pseudoreplication: a sine qua non for regional ecology. Landscape Ecology 6: 251-258.
  • Skillen, E. L., J. Pickering and M. J. Sharkey. 2000. Species richness of the Campopleginae and Ichneumoninae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) along a latitudinal gradient in eastern North American old-growth forests. Environmental Entomology 29: 460-466.
  • Bremermann, H. J. and J. Pickering. 1983. A game-theoretical model of parasite virulence. J. Theoretical Biology 100: 411-426.
  • Getz, W. M., and J. Pickering. 1983. Epidemic models: thresholds and population regulation. American Naturalist 121: 892-898.
  • Holt, R. D., and J. Pickering. 1985. Infectious disease and species coexistence: a model of Lotka-Volterra form. American Naturalist 126:196-211.
  • Pickering, J. 1980. Larval competition and brood sex ratios in the gregarious parasitoid Pachysomoides stupidus. Nature 283: 291-292.
  • Wenzel, J. W., and J. Pickering. 1991. Cooperative foraging, productivity, and the central limit theorem. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 88: 36-38.

Research Support:
  • 2006. Web tools to identify, report, and map invasive species in North America -- 3rd year continuation. USGS-NBII

    Founder and coordinator of This site includes IDnature Guides, a Global Mapper, and reporting tools that allow web users to contribute and retrieve information about nature. Since inception, Discover Life has served 5.9 million pages and images to 145,000 unique IP addresses. Its identification guides will help students participating in the proposed NIH project to identify species, map specimens, and share photographs and data. See for technical details.

  • 2005. The development and continuing service-support of online systems for the Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific and the Greater Caribbean. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

    D. Ross Robertson of STRI and his colleagues have assembled information on the shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific and Greater Caribbean that was used to publish, in 2002, a CD-ROM entitled "Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific: an information system," Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama (ISBN 9962-614-02-3). That publication, which covers 1,195 species, provides users with identification guides, maps, images, species descriptions, analytical tools, and related content for the shorefishes of that biogeographic region. The 2005 version of that CD covers ~1250 species. D Ross Robertson and James van Tassell are currently working on "Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean, a resource for research", a companion work to the 2002 system for the shorefish fauna of the Greater Caribbean (Bermuda and Florida to Trinidad), which will cover ~1,600 species. Future plans include equivalent systems for Brazil, Venezuela and Panama.

    To enable the information and analytical capabilities of the set of systems on neotropical fishes to be distributed widely and used freely throughout the world Discover Life will make the information provided by Robertson and his colleagues on the Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific (SFTEP) and the Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean (SFGC) available on its website (and on a mirror website at STRI when the necessary hardware becomes available). That information and analytical capabilities will be provided through two autonomous systems within the Discover Life website, systems that operate in the same general format and have the same general interface structure as the SFTEP CD-based system.

    Work to be undertaken by Discover Life under this contract:
    SFTEP and SFGC are tightly linked projects and represent the first two stages in a series of systems on the Shore-fishes of the Neotropicas. Discover Life will develop a common means to assemble and serve the information and provide the analytical capabilities of both SFTEP and SFGC. The information and data from D Ross Robertson's Access databases, contributed images, and maps from the Smithsonian Geographer geographic-data management program will be integrated into Discover Life's tools to make all the information and functions of the 2002 CD, together with some enhancements of analytical capabilities, available on the Web for both SFTEP and SFGC. Discover Life will also provide a user-friendly and secure online data-management system for use by STRI for this suite of neotropical fish information systems.

    An overview of Discover Life's goals and the technical tools that will be used is provided at the prospectus available at

  • 2005. Online Pollinator Identification USGS-NBII -- Proposal for Modification #2 to Basic Agreement 04CRAG0005

    Pollinators are thought to be in significant decline throughout North America. The 4000 species of bees found in the United States are the primary pollinators of plants, both native and invasive, as well as many agricultural crops. In response to this situation the Department of Interior and other groups have joined together to form the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (

    Unfortunately, within North American there exist no replicable historic data on pollinator populations that permit statistical comparisons. Consequently, we have no idea if pollinators have declined in ways similar to those seen in European countries.

    Groups at Interior (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center), USDA (Logan Native Bee Laboratory), and various academic groups have completed much of the work necessary to best survey and monitor native bees ( and are beginning to advocate the start of surveys in National Parks, Refuges, states, and other geographic areas.

    Unfortunately that cannot occur until an important and limiting factor is rectified. The lack of current, accurate, and usable identification keys for most native bee species.

    Fortunately, we have pulled together a group of scientists who are helping us consolidate 50 years of scattered taxonomic updates on these species along with a wealth of unpublished information. In turn, we are placing that information on our web site using the new, powerful online guide software created by Discover Life (

    Lack of such identification guides currently limits the amount and quality of both the research and monitoring aspects of native bee study.

    The USGS' and the scientific community's need for such web-based bee keys mates well with the NBII's role in promoting and disseminating such information.

    Once this information is available then we can begin truly supporting the collection of good scientific information on bees and other pollinators in the United States. Until these guides come available we are blocked from moving forward.

    Proposed Project

    We wish to finish the creation of the online keys to all of the 66 genera of bees found in the East. We will have created pilot keys for about 20 of those genera. Most of these keys ultimately will have both the words and the illustrations that go along with them. However, in this proposal we are asking only for enough support to do the difficult work of compiling, word-smithing, and testing the text component of an additional 20 guides. We are looking elsewhere for support for the remaining keys and the illustrations.

    Description of Proposed Project:
    The creation of keys to each of the genera all require the same approach. A search of the obscure entomological literature for all changes, keys, references to the identification and naming of that group; a trip to the Smithsonian's collection to obtain a loan of specimens for each of these species, calling to other museums to request loans of material not found in the Smithsonian collection, defining which characters could be useful for discriminating among the species, scoring each of the specimens for the proposed characters; creating an initial spreadsheet with the characters, states, and scorings, submission of that information to the web, a review of those characters by to eliminate jargon and increase the precision of the descriptions, following those updates there are 2 rounds of evaluations and double-checking by the guide creator and biologists at Patuxent, the key then goes out for review to taxonomists who specialize in that group, and if time permits, text and pictures are added to illustrate the character states and the species.

    The beauty of these keys is that not only do they speed up identification because of their structure, but they can be immediately updated if name changes or information about better ways to identify them occur.

    These keys also create most of the framework for constructing keys for the remaining bees of the western states as the characters have already been chosen and the software developed; what remains is the simpler task of scoring the specimens.

    List of participating organization(s), names of personnel, and their role in supporting the project:
    By its nature the creation of these guides is a collaborative venture among the few remaining bee taxonomists and biologists in the United States and Canada. Some groups in particular stand out. We have been and will continue to work closely with the taxonomists at the USDA's Logan Bee Laboratory. Additionally, we have been working with John Ascher at the American Museum of Natural History who has been providing us with up-to-date information about distributions and naming conventions. The Smithsonian has given us space, visiting scientist passes, and a room to work in while we use and borrow their collection. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign has provided a network of reviewers for the project as well as their backing of our project. Many individual taxonomists have given their support already in determining specimens and working with us on issues regarding individual genera and species. We have obtained permission from the creators of the out-of-print books on the genera of the North and Central America and the 1960's 2 volume set on the Bees of the East published by the State of North Carolina to excerpt material from their books and put them up on these web sites.

    Major Deliverables:
    We will publish working guides to 20 additional genera of bees in the Eastern United States that will include all the text information necessary to identify the species as well as distributional information that will help narrow down the possibilities.

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