Remembering James Alexander Slater 1920-2008.
|Article Type:||In memoriam|
|Publication:||Name: Entomologica Americana Publisher: New York Entomological Society Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 New York Entomological Society ISSN: 1947-5136|
|Issue:||Date: April, 2009 Source Volume: 115 Source Issue: 2|
|Persons:||Biographee: Slater, James A.|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
The global community of heteropterists has lost a preeminent
leader. James A. Slater, Professor Emeritus of the University of
Connecticut, passed away in Rockford, Illinois on November 2, 2008 at
the age of 88. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Betty), four
children, Alex, Jacquelyn, Samuel, and Lydia, two grandchildren, and two
James Slater was born in Belvidere, Illinois, the only child of Ray Alvin and Gladys Banks Slater. He attended the University of Illinois, where he received his BS and MS degrees in entomology. He served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and the Pacific theaters during World War II. He returned from the war to complete his PhD at Iowa State College, Ames, where he worked with Harry H. Knight, Dean of North American Miridae (Slater, 1979a).
Jim, as he was known to his friends, was from an early age a dedicated biologist who went on to become a respected figure in the academic community. Jim's real love was the true bugs (Heteroptera), but he also had an ongoing fascination with snakes and was a serious student of ornithology, a life-long bird watcher, and, at one time, the Connecticut State Ornithologist.
What I have to say about James Slater can possibly best be told by relating aspects of his life where I had some personal knowledge. This will not be a complete story, or an unbiased one, but I believe it will help to convey something about Jim as a person and as a scientist. My remembrances of Jim Slater are, nonetheless, written in an informal vein that he would no doubt find appropriate, as he used it himself in remembering several colleagues and professional friends.
Jim and I first met on the telephone in early 1967. I had applied to the PhD program at the University of Connecticut. My application somehow got lost in the university mail system and only came to Jim's attention near the deadline for acceptances and awards. Because time was of the essence, I received a call in the graduate student offices in the Entomology Department of Michigan State University, where I was completing my master's degree. Jim got right to the point: was I still available (yes); was I married (no); would I be willing to go to South Africa for 8 months to work as his research assistant, primarily doing field work (yes).
My next encounter with Jim was on a blistering-hot day in mid-June, 1967 when I arrived by car in Storrs, Connecticut to begin service as a research assistant. Jim, probably wisely, thought that we should get acquainted over the summer before departing for South Africa in October. I was assigned some space across the hall from the small office and research space Jim shared with his assistant Darlene Wilcox and given the task of dissecting and illustrating male genitalia in the true bug subfamily Blissinae.
At that time Jim was the chair of the Biological Sciences Group and a very busy man, even during the summer. Jim was not a micromanager, and left me to do my work. I would report to him periodically and we would discuss my skills (which were at best untested) and my findings. From the outset I was treated as a colleague, even when acting like a 24-year-old graduate student. Jim Slater was the consummate professional who inspired his students (or left them in trepidation) and gained the respect of his colleagues through hard work and a constant pursuit for moving beyond the status quo. This was the approach he applied to working with me from the very beginning.
At that time Jim was assisted by Darlene "Dee" B. Wilcox, who ran the lab in his absence, and sometimes in his presence. Dee had many fine qualities, and a few foibles. One of the latter was smoking. I also smoked at the time. Jim was a "social smoker." When it came time for some conversation or discussion of issues concerning blissines or other bugs, we had to have a cigarette.
Jim would invariably "bum" a smoke from either Dee or me. This habit persisted for some years, until Dee had passed away from an ultimate bout with pneumonia and the rest of us had accepted the fact--long after the Surgeon General--that smoking was bad for your health.
Another thing I learned early on about Jim Slater was that he was an insomniac. He did not hesitate to discuss the subject, and sometimes its effects were obvious. The man just needed more sleep. On the other hand, it may have contributed to his prodigious output over the course of his career. What we all knew was that Jim was always thinking about something, and sometimes those things apparently kept him awake at night. He once remarked to me that a psychotherapist had offered to treat the condition but the length of time required could not be estimated and might be great. Jim just lived with it until the end of his life.
Jim always enjoyed conversation, and lunchtime was no exception. I remember well many lunches at nearby Kathy John's Restaurant. The assembled usually included Jim, Dee, sometimes me, and possibly other colleagues like Ralph Wetzel, the department mammalogist. If politics was in the air, we talked "liberal" politics, the only kind that Jim understood. How many times did I hear the name of Hubert Humphrey? If the crowd was bug people, we talked about bugs. Jim was not always a socially comfortable person, but he could always carry the conversation. His broad knowledge of history, politics, current events, tennis, the university administration, herpetology, ornithology, and most of all Heteroptera, meant that he could always find something to keep the conversation going.
When October 1967 rolled around it was time to go to Africa. For Jim and Betty Slater, it was like taking the whole family, three of their own children and me. At the time, flying to Johannesburg from New York meant stops in Dakar, Monrovia, Accra, Lagos, and Kinshasa on the way. The plane was a gleaming Pan American Douglas DC8. The passengers dressed up for the occasion. The baggage weight limit was 20 kilograms per person. Meals with complimentary drinks were the norm. And, smoking was allowed. Jim planned the trip so we would spend a week with his old friend Dennis Leston at the West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI) in Tafo, Ghana. Jim and Dennis had become acquainted during the 1950s and cemented their relationship during a one-year sabbatical at the British Museum (Natural History) during which Jim did much of the work on his monumental Catalogue of Lygaeidae, published by the Univer sity of Connecticut in 1964. No two people could have been more different: Jim was tall and bald, with an almost patrician manner. He was soft spoken, very, very rarely used vulgar language or expressions, and never looked unkempt. Dennis was short, loud, vulgar, given to braggadocio, and frequently disheveled. What they shared in common was an encyclopedic knowledge of bugs, a never ending supply of new ideas about groups and phenomena that needed study, and an unquenchable desire to explore new ideas.
Upon landing in Accra, Ghana, we were met by both Leston and Ray Kumar, the latter then on the faculty at the University of Ghana and himself a respected authority on Heteroptera. Near the end of his life, Jim loved to recount how Dennis Leston swooped down to speed our passage through customs, dismissing the bureaucratic enquiries of the Ghanaian authorities concerning the luggage and documents of his sleep-deprived visitors from North America. Jim and his family stayed in the guest house on the station grounds, while I was lodged in the spare bedroom in Leston's house. During our stay in Tafo we collected in the forest understory during the day and tended a mercury-vapor light at night. A highlight of this trip was a visit to a site of undisturbed forest, where we observed Leston and his Ghanaian assistants use pyrethrin mist to capture insects from the canopy. Leston was way ahead of his time in the application of this technique and Jim was totally absorbed in understanding the approaches Leston was using to capture specimens and learn more about West African Heteroptera.
Jim and Dennis had seemingly endless conversations. These started on the way from the airport and ended upon our departure from Ghana. Because Jim and Dennis had not seen each other for some years there was catching up to do. For much of the time I was agog at the continual recital of scientific names, the majority of which were unfamiliar to me and therefore had little context...except to Dennis and Jim. On occasion Leston would snatch a folder from the filing cabinet in his colonial-era laboratory and declare that such-and-such a project was already well along under the title of "Leston Unpublished."
Leston, like Jim, was interested in many things other than bugs. He paid young men who worked at WACRI to capture snakes and bring them to him. His work area was adorned by a screen cage containing a green mamba, a creature of deceptive beauty. Leston was fully aware of Jim's love of snakes, and we were regaled with many stories on the subject, beyond being able to admire the deadly mamba. One involved a cobra in a bag, which the native collector assured Leston was dead. When poured onto the floor the snake turned out to be quite alive, the story ending with Leston's description of his bolting from the office, the recapture of the snake, and his unvarnished opinions on the sagacity of the collector. Leston's fascination with snakes was not idle, and resulted in several publications on the snakes of the Taro region.
Our stay in Ghana was like a trip to fantasy land, and with Leston as the tour guide the pace was non-stop. Ghana was the most exotic place to which Jim had traveled and my first time outside the United States. The bread was made from mandioca flour, cantaloupes were substituted with papayas, and the no-see-ums ate us alive every evening. The sleeping quarters at the institute had double screens and airlocks to keep out the noseems. On one occasion I left the airlock open and received an excoriation from Dennis Leston the following morning.
Once we arrived in South Africa, it was time to get down to the real business of the trip. William G.H. Coaton was our host. Aside from his formidable stature in the South Africa community of entomologists and head of the systematic entomology section of the Plant Protection Research Institute, Coaton can best be described as Mr. Termite. He was an indefatigable field worker who had traveled just about anywhere and everywhere in South Africa, as testified to by a gridded map marked with the localities where he had collected termites. Coaton's knowledge of the country was encyclopedia and defined our approach to field work. Jim and Bill became good friends and continued to correspond until the end of Coaton's life a decade or so after our visit.
At first we lived in a residential hotel near our "office away from the university," the insect collection space of the Plant Protection Research Institute, near the parliament buildings in Pretoria. Jim had arranged to have the university deposit his paychecks in an account with Barclays Bank. But soon he came to me asking if I had some cash, because his account was empty. The paradox of this situation will not be lost on any graduate student; although I had a great time and always got by, I was making a pauper's wage. After about two weeks of this, we learned that Barclays was depositing Jim's paychecks in the account of another James Slater and no longer did six people have to live on a graduate student's salary.
Jim bought a Volkswagen Variant station wagon which became our field vehicle. While traveling from one place to another I often did the driving so that Jim could watch birds, read maps, plan the itinerary, or just take a break from covering the long distances. Mostly he watched birds while we were driving. Many, like bustards, secretary birds, and blue cranes were easy to spot and identify. Other, smaller, birds required more careful observation. When Jim saw something of interest he would often make a comment something like "Oh, look at that!" My eye was usually focused on the road, the vegetation, or on animals larger than ducks. Not so for Jim, who was studying the details of the avifauna. More than once he exclaimed "God dammit Toby, would you stop the car!" He never meant offense, such "outbursts" simply being a reflection of the seriousness with which he pursued his bird watching. Jim's dedication included taking a spotting scope and tripod to Africa to facilitate his interest in birds. How he got this equipment on the plane and still remained within the 20 kilogram weight limit I do not know. At the end of our stay in South Africa Jim had added more than 400 species to his "life list."
On one occasion, Jim was driving and I was in the back seat. We were ascending the Drakensberg from the lowlands of Natal on a rainy day and came upon a muddy spot in the road where some vehicles had gotten stuck. Jim turned to me and asked how I thought we should proceed. I suggested that he just drive through in a deliberate fashion, not too much gas, not too little. Once we had successfully crossed he seemed quite amazed at our success. Near the end of his life he recounted this event and remarked on the "quality" advice that I had provided. Jim was a fiercely competitive individual, a personality attribute he applied on the tennis court as a younger man. He was not a person of great "mechanical" ability, however, which is doubtless the moral of this particular anecdote.
The original impetus for working in South Africa came from Jim's participation in preparing the Lygaeidae section for "South African Animal Life," a series of volumes based on the Lund University expeditions of 1950-1951. Whereas
many papers in those volumes dealt only with specimens collected by expedition leaders Brinck and Rudebeck, Jim scoured other collections and produced a truly comprehensive article of 228 pages which was published in 1964. In preparing that work, he correctly deduced that the fauna must be almost unknown in terms of actual diversity, and that his contribution represented an opportunity to conduct further research, rather than being a finished product. Jim's thinking proved to be visionary. Over the next 10 years he produced either single handedly, or through coauthorship, a series of papers on a wide range of Lygaeoidea, but most especially the Blissinae, all of them based in large part on material that was collected during our 8-month stay in South Africa. Although the South African Animal Life paper had dramatically increased the size of the South African fauna, the fieldwork Jim conducted took our knowledge of heteropteran diversity in the region to a whole new plane. His work on the Blissinae culminated in the publication of a generic conspectus and phylogenetic analysis of the group (Slater, 1979b). During much of our time in South Africa we were joined by Merrill H. Sweet from Texas A&M University. Merrill had received his PhD with Jim some four years earlier and came to South Africa to employ his skills as an indefatigable collector of members of the lygaeoid family Rhyparochromidae, which also proved to be remarkably diverse.
During the conduct of our fieldwork in South Africa, Jim kept a daily record of our activities in the field. His method was to use a "Dictaphone." At the end of each day in the field we would compare notes in our efforts to make certain that the record was complete and accurate. He then sent the tapes to Dee Wilcox, who transcribed them. The notes provide a record of where we went and what we encountered. Jim always attempted to improve on prior approaches. As part of this effort he made arrangements for the authoritative identification of plant vouchers. My prior experience in preparing herbarium specimens was put to work on a daily basis. The field protocols that Jim established, and the practice of placing host labels on the Blissinae and Miridae, among other phytophagous groups, represented possibly the most conscientious effort in field documentation by heteropterists up to that time. His approach has had a lasting impact on the remainder of my own career.
We returned from South Africa in late May 1968, after 8 months in the field and laboratory. Many of us would probably have flown straight home, tired of traveling and desperate for reacculturation. Jim, however, saw the trip home as an opportunity to further the study of culture and improve our knowledge of true bugs. We flew to Rome, via Nairobi and Athens, where we spent three days visiting the main touristic sites. None of us had any knowledge of Italian, which produced some interesting interchanges at restaurants and other locations. Jim had planned the itinerary with care, and I therefore received a proper introduction to what is one of the world's ultimate tourist destinations, including visits to the Coliseum, Sistine Chapel, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and others. From Rome we flew to London and a two-week stay at the British Museum (Natural History). I had no idea what to do. I knew nothing of the world fauna in any group of Heteroptera. When I asked Jim how he thought I should best use my time, he suggested that I make a list of taxa in the Miridae, which I did. The result proved to be extremely useful when preparing my dissertation, although I could not have made that prediction at the time I was hand writing the list. As was the case in Rome, I was the beneficiary of Jim's love of history and his penchant for planning. We visited Westminster Abbey, among other locations in London. Most importantly for a heteropterist, we made contact with some of the most important players in the field. I was introduced to W.E. China, long-time "keeper" of entomology at the BM, J.W. Evans of the Australian Museum, and M.S.K. Ghauri of the Commonwealth Institute of Entomology. The highlight, however, was a visit we paid to the home of Richard Southwood, a sometime coauthor with Dennis Leston, who went on to receive knighthood in the British system of honors. Slater and Southwood pored over a proof set of R. H. Cobben's 1968 work on the eggs of Heteroptera, doubtless a seminal work, but one whose value I was at pains to appreciate at the time. In a way, our trip had come full circle, starting with Leston and ending with Southwood.
Jim learned to love South Africa ... and its fauna and flora. Before traveling there in 1967 he read intensively: literature, history, guidebooks to the birds and reptiles, travel aids, and anything else he could lay his hands on. Some years later he and Betty returned to conduct further field work, but Jim suffered a ruptured disk in his lower back. This cut his fieldwork short and he never returned to the land of so, so many Lygaeoidea.
It is possible that Jim's successes in South Africa motivated him to conduct fieldwork elsewhere, or maybe he knew innately that just about any area was ripe for additional work. Whatever the case, as a student of Harry Knight, he had seen what fieldwork had done for our knowledge of the North American Miridae.
During late 1971 and early 1972, Jim and Betty collected in Australia, being hosted by heteropterist colleagues the late Tom Woodward and the recently deceased Gordon Gross, among others. Their efforts were rewarded by the capture of many new species and resulted in several papers on the Australian fauna.
In the early 1970s, Jim became acquainted with Harry Brailovsky of the Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico. Harry was the first heteropterist of Mexican extraction, in modern times--or any time. His boundless energy and tireless work ethic captured Jim's imagination. Harry returned the favor in his admiration for Jim's accomplishments and the depth of his knowledge of true bugs. What Harry could not do, however, was to persuade Jim to do fieldwork in Mexico. Jim had no useful knowledge of Spanish and he did not like exotic foods. Even Italian cuisine was exotic to his mind. Mexican food was just off the charts and its effects would not have been ameliorated by the antacid tablets that were a fixture of Jim's daily life during his days as a professor and administrator. As he did for many younger workers, Jim offered Harry enthusiastic support, not just in words, but in deeds. But their collaborations on the Mexican fauna, which resulted in several significant publications, left the fieldwork to Harry. Jim remarked to me on several occasions how impressed he was with Harry's being able to find the blissid genus Toonglossa Distant and other genera that had not been seen in the field since the late 1800s during collecting for the Biologia Centrali Americana.
In the mid-1970s Jim invited Dennis Leston to the University of Connecticut, as a visiting lecturer and a collaborative researcher. By this time Leston had established for himself a respected record of creative publications in tropical insect ecology, based on his work in Ghana and subsequently Brazil. My interpretation is that this move showed Jim's admiration for Leston's creative mind, and probably his hope that it could be brought to bear on synthesizing information in areas that were of greatest interest to Jim. In the end, there are no published papers by Slater and Leston, and Jim's efforts to publish on the Rhyparochromidae of the Tafo region, based largely on the collections made by Leston, could not be brought to completion before his death.
Over time Jim Slater assembled a valuable collection of literature on Heteroptera. Long after his retirement at the age of 68, he continued to acquire reprints from other heteropterists, and to maintain his author-subject card files that facilitated access to those papers. His excellent collections of books and separates, although far from complete, were an invaluable resource for his own research and for that of his students.
When speaking to his students, Jim often used the term conceptual. This was his way of speaking to ideas--hypotheses--that moved beyond the descriptive. This was not because he was sensitive about the descriptive underpinnings of the field of insect taxonomy: he was not. But he was always seeking ways to push the envelope, to synthesize knowledge, and to derive a deeper understanding of the biological world, especially as that could be achieved through the study of true bugs. This penchant for synthesis is evident in the titles of many of his papers, a list of which was published in 1991 in a volume honoring his contributions to the field of systematic entomology (O'Donnell and Schuh, 1991).
Even though he was always a busy man, especially during his two stints as department chair, he found time to speak with his students and other colleagues. I remember one habit in particular: when you entered his office to seek advice, or asked if he had time to discuss an issue, he would put aside what he was doing, turn off his microscope light, and give you his undivided attention.
As an advisor Jim could be demanding, but he was also generous. When I got to Connecticut he asked if I had some particular subject in mind for a dissertation project. I told him I was interested in working on the Miridae. He thought about that for a while and said that maybe we could figure something out, but that working on the North American fauna was probably out of the question because Harry Knight was still alive and working. Knight fell into W.S. Blatchley's category of "quit claim specialist" (Blatchley, 1928), and was intolerant of others who encroached on his territory: that territory was the United States. In the end I used the poorly studied South African Miridae fauna as a way of developing a dissertation topic; during our time in South Africa Jim provided me with many opportunities to collect with that goal in mind. He also read nearly every word that I wrote, providing many valuable suggestions that helped to frame the subject as well as eliminate errors and inconsistencies. It was at this point that I really did learn to read his nearly illegible handwriting as well as to appreciate more fully the breadth of his thinking and the level of his organizational skills.
After my student days were over, I had the pleasure of visiting Jim and Betty on many occasions at their colonial home--which dated from 1775--in rural east-central Connecticut, often accompanied by my wife Brenda and daughter Ella. Often over a glass of scotch, the conversation would frequently extend late into the evening. The details of heteropteran classification, cladistic methodology, or biogeographic patterns were some of the favored subjects, with occasional forays into liberal politics, milk glass finds at local flee markets, and tennis.
At about the time Jim retired, he built an addition to the Slater home which housed his study and provided space for collections and library resources. This new space allowed him to continue his study of true bugs and to explore those fields of study that he found most compelling, including colonial gravestones and milk glass, subjects on which he was also well published. It also helped to accommodate his expanding milk glass collection that had originally been started by his mother. Jim and Betty acquired thousand of pieces, with values ranging from a few cents to several thousands of dollars; every room in their home was adorned with milk glass ... and books.
Jim loved dogs, particularly good-sized dogs. Betty had cats, usually several of them. As of 1967 the Slaters had two female black Labrador retrievers. These were eventually replaced by Pepe, a sometimes snarling black mutt; Golly, who for all the world looked like an overgrown wolf; Hound, large, part hound, and barely capable of living in the house; and Rufus, Jim's last dog. These dogs, to an individual, were not only house pets, they were Jim's nearly constant companions. They slept on the bed, no matter the size of the dog. They occupied the couch. They were fed at the table--breakfast, lunch, and dinner--functioning as virtual dishwashers. And, they went to work with him. In this regard, the University of Connecticut seemed to have no rules. Or possibly, the rules did not apply to Jim and his serial collection of dogs. Jim Slater understood dogs and they understood him. Jim was not a maudlin person, but the death of one of his dogs usually brought him to tears.
But not all of the Slater pets were domesticated. For a long period Jim had a collection of six tortoises, the species of which I do not remember. Each was about a foot long. He had both males and females. When mating season came around they would cluck like chickens from their pen in the corner study of the Slater home where they spent the winter months. For much of the time that I knew Jim he also had snakes. Nothing poisonous, but some--like an eight foot rock python--had a penchant for biting, so feeding time was an occasion for care when you put your hand in the large glass terrarium.
In the late 1980s, shortly after his retirement from the university, I proposed to Jim the idea of producing a reference work on Heteroptera. Cornell University Press was to be the publisher. Jim took responsibility for the Pentatomomorpha and some of the chapters dealing with general subject matter. I was responsible for much of what remained, including enforcement of stylistic conformity across the 83 subsections of the book. We spent many hours discussing the substance of the work, most of it on the phone, because the Internet age and the use ofemail had not yet become part of mainstream life in the biological sciences. Jim and I were miles apart in terms of writing style. After some back and forth he made it clear that he was ceding the final decisions on style to me. Nonetheless, Jim had his opinions, and never failed to express them. At one point I remarked that our approach to discussing the biogeography of true bugs should be more strongly grounded in evidence with less of the speculative narrative that characterized a draft chapter he had prepared. His response was swift and unwavering: "Toby, as the man in charge of this project you are the one who will have to make that call. But if you do as you are suggesting, this section will be very short and very boring." In the end, Jim applied his encyclopedic knowledge, his extensive literature collection, his love of writing, and his tenacious desire to synthesize knowledge in the preparation of a series of coherent chapters on the Lygaeoidea and other members of the Pentatomomorpha that brought together the often conflicting literature in a way that had not been accomplished previously or since (Schuh and Slater, 1995).
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Although the True Bugs book preceded the Internet age, it did not precede the computer age. Jim began using computers in his work as soon as the personal computer was generally available. He brushed up on his typing skills and made the transition from the use of secretaries to producing his own manuscripts. He and I exchanged files through the mail on floppy disks, an approach that greatly facilitated our collaborations. When email came along Jim embraced that too.
Jim long had a fondness for the American Museum of Natural History. He never provided any precise reasons, to me at least, but one can imagine it had to do with the great quantities of seminal works that flowed from the pens of William Diller Matthew, George Gaylord Simpson, and Ernst Mayr, among many others. Maybe it was in the collections, although the bug collection was not strong taxonomically or geographically, at least not until Pedro Wygodzinsky joined the staff in 1963. Whatever the reasons for that fondness, Jim chose to donate his bug collection to the American Museum. Because he believed strongly in the study of Heteroptera, not just Lygaeoidea, and because his professional life took root at a relatively small university with very limited collection resources, he made a concerted and ongoing effort to develop a collection that would serve his own research interests as well as assist in the training of students. The result contained remarkable coverage at the family level, and in many groups taxa of particular interest because of their geographic origins. The unselfish deposition of this fine collection of about 100,000 specimens in a major museum makes readily available to posterity a remarkable assemblage of Lygaeoidea, particularly from Africa, as well as valuable specimens in many other groups of Heteroptera. It is fair to say that no single person has ever amassed a lygaeoid collection of this scope, much of it based on original fieldwork.
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Jim Slater believed in the community of heteropterists. He encouraged interactions among workers through attendance at meetings, maintaining correspondence, and the loan of specimens. He, as much as anybody, believed that heteropteran systematics was truly a field of study. The breadth of his knowledge could be both inspiring and intimidating, but it always allowed him the ability to discuss the interests of other bug workers on their terms. Jim was like a walking/talking Internet: he knew the workers, he knew the literature, he knew the taxa, and maybe best of all, he knew the collections. His knowledge of collections derived in large part from his extensive travels in Europe during 1960-1961. In my student years at the University of Connecticut, his touchstone collections were the British Museum (Natural History) and the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, a status achieved because of their extensive type holdings and their long and distinguished histories in taxonomic studies.
Jim Slater's dedication to the study of Heteroptera was evident, even in the last few weeks of his life. He put forward forceful comments indicating his opinions on contributions and approaches that Gerry Cassis and I had implemented in bringing to completion the manuscript for what is probably Jim's last paper (Slater et al., 2009). He received help typing the letter and his hand written comments on the MS verged on illegible, but his unwavering commitment to solving problems in heteropteran systematics was evident as was his perception of obligation to respond to his co-authors in a substantive way.
Jim Slater was a long-time member of the New York Entomological Society. At one point he served as the editor of Entomologica Americana, long before that name was applied to the flagship jounal of the society. He also delivered lectures before the society. The impact of those lectures was reinforced when I was recently approached by an elderly gentleman in New York who remembered a lecture presented by Jim in the late 1960s on the subject of his travels and collecting experiences in South Africa.
I have little doubt about the enduring quality of Jim Slater's legacy. His knowledge of Heteroptera was on a par with that of Pavel Stys and the late Izya Kerzhner. Even later in my career I could not help but marvel at his ability to recognize taxa at all levels across the Heteroptera. The breadth of his published record is written testimony to the comprehensiveness of his knowledge. He worked prodigiously, turning out paper after paper, advancing the study of Heteroptera both conceptually and empirically. All the while, he treated me and many other colleagues almost as members of his family. I will aways remember "sleeping amongst the milk glass" in his Connecticut home where the door was always open and the welcome was always warm. His was a life well lived, and I am glad that I had the honor of studying under him as a PhD student, working with him as a colleague, and knowing him as a friend.--Randall T. Schuh, Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thank Gerry Cassis, Brenda Massie, Jane O'Donnell, and Steve Thurston for reading and commenting on the text and Steve Thurston for preparing the figures.
Received 20 August 2009; accepted 21 September 2009
Blatchley, W. S. 1928. "Quit claim" specialists vs. the making of manuals. Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 23: 10-18.
O'Donnell, J. and R. Schuh. 1991. Bibliography of James A. Slater, 1943-to present, ln: Contributions on the Natural History and Systematics of the Heteroptera and Coleoptera in honor of James A. Slater. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 99: 287-297.
Schuh, R. T. and J. A. Slater. 1995. True Bugs of the World (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Classification and Natural History. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. xii + 338 pp.
Slater, J. A. 1979a. Harry H. Knight: A remembrance. Melsheimer Entomological Series 24: 1-8.
Slater. 1979b. The systematics, phylogeny, and zoogeography of the Blissinae of the World (Hemiptera, Lygaeidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 165: 1-180.
Slater, J. A., R. T. Schuh, G. Cassis, C. A. Johnson and P. Pedraza. 2009. Revision of Laryngodus HerrichSchaeffer, an Allocasuarina feeder, with comments on its biology and the classification of the family (Heteroptera: Lygaeoidea: Rhyparochromidae). Invertebrate Systematics 23:111-133.
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