Caribbean Studies

In studying the crickets and katydids of the coastal habitats in southern Florida T.J. Walker discovered that most species were probably yet to be described, and that the species that had scientific names had often been first described based on specimens collected in Cuba or Jamaica, rather than in Florida. This made it likely that at least some of his “new” species from Caribbean-like habitats in southern Florida were already described, but at the northern edge of distributions that were mostly in the Caribbean. This made it desirable to study the Caribbean GrylTett fauna well enough to avoid assigning new names to Caribbean species that already had scientific names. To start such a study, T.J. Walker compiled a “Preliminary Checklist of West Indian Gryllidae” and a corresponding one for Tettigoniidae. Both manuscripts were completed in 1968 but never published. In both groups, nomenclatural uncertainties were abundant and the dates of the species descriptions revealed that neither crickets nor katydids had received much attention in the Caribbean during the previous 50 years. USA’s long lasting political dispute with Cuba thwarted T.J. Walker’s urge to learn more about the crickets and katydids of the largest of the Greater Antilles and the one closest to Florida. However, between 1966 and 1992, as opportunities arose, he visited the other three large islands and three smaller ones: Jamaica (40 days of field work), Puerto Rico (17), Hispaniola (16), Montserrat (6), St. Croix (2), and Grand Cayman (2). 

For linking his Caribbean field notes to specific specimens and recordings, T. J. Walker used the same date plus site-sequence number system as used for the North American studies. However, none of the Caribbean notes were written on 5x8-inch cards (height x width).  Instead they were written on the numbered pages of bound notebooks. On each of the first five major trips to the Caribbean field notes were written into individual 8x5-inch bound notebooks. On the last major trip (1992), they were written into one of the 8x10-inch record books used then for notes on several North American field projects (Record Books). Scans of the field notes from these six collecting and recording trips to the Caribbean are accessible in these PDF files:

Field notes from Caribbean Studies (1968-1992)

 

Funding for collecting and organizing the Thomas J. Walker Collection was partially provided by Thomas J. Walker.