Varrick Nazari Ottawa

Canadian Entomologist, Evolutionary Biologist and Wildlife Researcher based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Vazrick received his MSc from University of Alberta (2006) and PhD from University of Guelph (2011). His main areas of research include Lepidopteran taxonomy, biogeography, molecular systematics and phylogenetics. He also has an interest in cultural entomology, i.e. presence and role of butterflies and moths in the arts and cultures of peoples across the world.

vazrick nazari ottawa

 © Gary Larson

Biography

Vazrick became fascinated with butterflies at the age of 10, when he accidentally caught a scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) while playing badminton with his cousin. He then found books on how to collect and preserve butterflies properly and started a butterfly collection that later won his high school’s show and tell award. 

After receiving his undergraduate degree as a linguistic interpreter, he was hired as a technician at the Hayk Mirzayans Insect Museum (HMIM) and then as an assistant curator of entomology at the National Museum of Natural History (MMTT) for seven years. For three years during this period he also held the position of the executive secretary of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) and the Department of Environment.

In 2003 he began his MSc program in molecular phylogenetics and evolution (of swallowtail butterflies) at the University of Alberta at Felix Sperling’s lab. Upon receiving his MSc from the department of Biological Sciences at University of Alberta, he conducted doctoral research in molecular taxonomy and DNA barcoding of Lepidoptera under the supervision of Paul Hebert at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

From 2011 to 2019 he was an assistant curator of entomology at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. Since 2019 he is a wildlife research and management consultant for the private sector in Ottawa, Canada. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and several books in the fields of insect taxonomy, cultural entomology, and molecular phylogenetics of butterflies and moths. 

Education

University of Alberta
MSc
2004 - 2006
University of Guelph
PhD
2007 - 2011

 © Gary Larson

Skills

• identification of adult and larval insects 
• curation of scientific specimen collections 
• molecular and genomic lab work and high throughput sequencing
• handling, analysis and publication of large amounts of molecular data
• methods and protocols of DNA barcoding
• phylogenetic analysis of sequence and morphological data
• management of molecular projects
• databasing and information systems
• micro-dissections and slide-preparation 
• micro- and macro-photography and photo-editing
• field experience in collecting and preserving zoological specimens
• collaborations in multidisciplinary projects with multinational teams 
• supervising technical staff and students at various capacities
• organizing and holding conferences, workshops, and meetings
• writing grant applications
• Fluent in English, Armenian, Persian; also some French, German, and Arabic

 

Interests

Vazrick developed a passion for butterflies as a child, and from early childhood he has been collecting and studying these insects with interest. He has published numerous articles in leading journals in his field, including Nature and Science, and continues to strive to find answers to interesting questions that picks his curiosity. He is an advocate for open access science and a consultant for wildlife conservation organizations. He enjoys collaborating with his peers on various research projects and has presented the results of his research in numerous conferences across the world. He also has an interest in cultural entomology, i.e. presence and role of butterflies and moths in the arts and cultures of peoples across the world. He takes solace in helping people and volunteering for the homeless and those in need. He hopes to someday start an NGO dedicated to victims of social injustice and police brutality. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, movies, and playing guitar.

Publications

1. Nazari V, [2022]. Entomological Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia (submitted, under review)

2. Zahiri R, Nazari V, Rajaei H, Wiemers M, Fatahi M, Seidel M, Dalsgaard T, Husemann M, 2021. An illustrated catalogue of the type specimens of Lepidoptera housed in the Zoological Museum Hamburg (ZMH): Part II. superfamily Papilionoidea. Evolutionary Systematics 5: 193–261. [Link]

3. Nazari V, 2021. Lepidoptera in Upper Paleolithic Art. Antenna 45(2): 66–72. [Link]

4. Nazari V, 2021. Taxonomy at Face Value: An assessment of entomological postage stamps as effective teaching aids for science educators. Research Ideas and Outcomes 7: e68056. [Link]

5. Todisco V, Voda R, Prosser SWJ, Nazari V, 2020. Next generation sequencing-aided comprehensive geographic coverage sheds light on the status of rare and extinct populations of Aporia butterflies (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Scientific Reports (2020) 10:13970. [Link]

6. Nazari V, 2020. The Coconut Moth of Fiji. The Living Archive: Extinction stories from Oceania. [Link]

7. Nazari V, ten Hagen W, 2020. Molecular taxonomy of Tomares hairstreaks (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclinae). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 67 (1): 19–33. [Link]

8. Nazari V, Tarmann GM, Efetov KA, 2019. Phylogenetic position of the ‘extinct’ Fijian coconut moth, Levuana iridescens (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae). PLOSone 14(12): e0225590. [Link]

9. Nazari V, Merrett P, 2018. The Black Bordered Arab, Colotis ungemachi (Le Cerf, 1922) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) in the Middle East, and the first confirmed record for Ethiopia. Zoology in the Middle East 64(4): 374–376. DOI: 10.1080/09397140.2018.1511288 [Link]

10. Nazari V, Handfield L, Handfield D, 2018. The European Peacock Butterfly, Aglais io (Linnaeus, 1758) in North America (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). News of The Lepidopterists’ Society 60(3): 128–129. [Link via ResearchGate]

11. Plotkin D, Nazari V, Homziak NT, Kawahara AY, 2018. Large male bias in collection of Micropterix facetella Zeller, 1851 (Lepidoptera, Micropterigidae). Nota Lepidopterologica 41(1): 119–123. [Link]

12. Pohl GR, Landry JF, Schmidt BC, Lafontaine JD, Troubridge JT, Macaulay AD, van Nieukerken E, deWaard JR, Dombroskie JJ, Klymko J, Nazari V, Stead K, 2018. Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Series Faunistica #118. 580p. [Link]

13. Landry JF, Nazari V, Bidzilya O, Huemer P, Karsholt O, 2017. Review of the genus Agonochaetia Povolný (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae), and description of a new genus and species from the Canary Islands. Zootaxa 4300(4): 451–485. [Link]

14. Nazari V, Yanega D, 2017. Rules for new species from live specimens. Nature 546: 210. [Link]

15. Nazari V, 2017. First Record of Ephysteris subdiminutella (Stainton, 1867) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae: Gnorimoschemini) from Mexico. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 119(2): 281–285. [Link]

16. Austin K, Nazari V, Landry JF, Johnson SR, 2017. Lepidotarphius perornatella (Walker, 1864) (Lepidoptera: Glyphipterigidae) new to North America. News of The Lepidopterists’ Society 59(4): 182–184. [Link via ResearchGate]

17. Todisco V, Nazari V, Cesaroni D, Sbordoni V, 2017. Preliminary molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the monobasic subfamily Calinaginae (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Zoosystematic and Evolution 93 (2) 2017, 255–264. [Link]

18. Nazari V, 2017. Review of Neopalpa Povolný, 1998 with description of a new species from California and Baja California, Mexico (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae). ZooKeys 646: 79–94. [Link]

19. Nazari V, Schmidt BC, Prosser S, Hebert PDN, 2016. Century-old DNA barcodes reveal phylogenetic placement of the extinct Jamaican Sunset Moth, Urania sloanus Cramer (Lepidoptera: Uraniidae). PLOSone 11(10): e0164405. [Link]

20. Nazari V, 2016. Ovoviviparity in Hellinsia albilobatus (McDunnough, 1939) (Pterophoridae). SELepidoptera News 57: 28. [Link]

21. Nazari V, 2015. On the need for a Global Online Catalogue of Gelechioidea. INGA 5: 9–11. [Link]

22. Nazari V, Evans L, 2015. Butterflies of Ancient Egypt. Journal if the Lepidopterists’ Society 69(4): 242–267. [Link]

23. Pohl GR, Jaeger C, Nazari V, Schmidt BC, Richard D, Gosche S, 2014. Paraclemensia acerifoliella (Lepidoptera: Incurvariidae) in western Canada: a newly discovered host, an expanded range, and biogeographical considerations. The Canadian Entomologist 147(4): 459 – 471.[Link]

24. Nazari V, 2014. Chasing Butterflies in Medieval Europe. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 68(4): 223-231. [Link]

25. Adamski D, Landry JF, Nazari V, Priest RJ, 2014. Three new species of leaf-mining Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera) from Canada and northeastern United States. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society, 68(2): 101¬–123. [Link]

26. Nazari V, 2013. Gnorimoschema brackenridgiella Busck, 1903, a valid species (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 67(4): 301–304. [Link]

27. Hayden JE, Lee S, Passoa SC, Young J, Landry JF, Nazari V, Mally R, Somma LA, Ahlmark KM, 2013. Digital Identification of Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae. USDA-APHIS-PPQ Identification Technology Program (ITP). Fort Collins, CO. [Link]

28. Soyhan T, Başer S, Nazari V, 2013. First record of Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898 (Lycaenidae) from Turkey. Nota Lepidopterologica 36 (2): 189–190. [Link via ResearchGate]

29. Landry JF, Nazari V, DeWaard JR, Mutanen M, Lopez-Vaamonde C, Huemer P, Hebert PDN, 2013. Shared but overlooked: 30 species of Holarctic Microlepidoptera revealed by DNA barcodes and morphology. Zootaxa 3749 (1): 001–093. [Link]

30. Pohl GR, Anweiler G, Bird CD, Landry JF, Macaulay D, Maton I, Nazari V, Scott J, 2013. Update to the Checklist of the Lepidoptera of Alberta. Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter Fall 2013: 15–24. [Link]

31. Nazari V, 2013. Revising the North American Gnorimoschemini: Unlocking the Heritage of Dalibor F. Povolny. INGA 3: 23–25. [Link]

32. Nazari V. 2013. Towards a comprehensive DNA barcode library of the North American Gelechiidae. INGA 2: 8. [Link]

33. Nazari V, Landry JF, 2012. Gnorimoschemini fauna of Alberta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Prepared for Alberta Lepidopterist Guild. [Link via ResearchGate]

34. Pohl GR, Jaeger C, Richard D, Nazari V, 2011. The Maple Leafcutter Moth in Alberta. Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter Spring 2011: 20–23. [Link]

35. Pohl GR, Dombroskie JJ, Landry JF, Bird CD, Nazari V, 2011. Errata and first update to the 2010 checklist of the Lepidoptera of Alberta. Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter Spring 2011: 10–17. [Link]

36. Nazari V, Larsen TB, Lees DC, Brattström O, Bouyer T, Van de Poel G, Hebert PDN, 2011. Phylogenetic systematics of Colotis and associated genera (Lepidoptera: Pieridae): evolutionary and taxonomic implications. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 49(3): 204–215. [Link]

37. Wilson JJ, Landry JF, Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Nazari V, Hajibabaei M, Hebert PDN, 2010. Identity of the ailanthus webworm moth (Lepidoptera, Yponomeutidae), a complex of two species: evidence from DNA barcoding, morphology and ecology. ZooKeys 46: 41–60. [Link]

38. Larsen TB, Vane-Wright RI, Kunte K, Nazari V, 2009. Case 3488. Papilio danae Fabricius, 1775 (currently Colotis danae; Insecta, Lepidoptera, Pieridae): proposed conservation of prevailing usage by the suppression of Papilio danae Hufnagel, 1766. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66(3): 250–255. [Link]

39. Nazari V, Landry JF, 2009. Gnorimoschemini of Yukon (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Department of Environment, Government of Yukon. 23 pp. [Link via ResearchGate]

40. Nazari V, ten Hagen W, Bozano G, 2009. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of the ‘marbled whites’ (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae, Satyrinae, Melanargia Meigen). Systematic Entomology 35(1): 132–147. [Link]

41. Steeves R, Nazari V, 2008. Molecular identification of a larval lepidopteran pre-dispersal seed predator of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence Aster (Symphyotrichum laurentianum) (Fernald) Nesom. Canadian Entomologist 140(3): 297–305. [Link]

42. Nazari V, Sperling FAH, 2007. Mitochondrial DNA variability and phylogeography in western Palaearctic Parnassiinae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae): How many species are there? Insect Systematics and Evolution 38(2): 121–138. [Link]

43. Nazari V, Zakharov EV, Sperling FAH, 2007. Phylogeny and historical biogeography of Parnassiinae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae) based on morphology and seven genes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42: 131–156. [Link]

44. Nazari V, 2006. Phylogeny of Parnassiinae: Comparative analysis of DNA and morphology, with implications for the classification of the subfamily. MSc Thesis, University of Alberta. 

45. Nazari, V, Sperling FAH, [Carbonell, F], 2006. Parnassiinae on Tree of Life. [Link]

46. Nazari V, 2005. Sperling lab DNA Vouchers: Lists, data and images. [Link]

47. Nazari V, 2003. Butterflies of Iran. Department of Environment, Tehran, Iran. 564 pp. [Link]

48. National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Secretariat, 2002. Biodiversity for Decision Makers (member of the drafting group)

49. National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Secretariat, 2001. The second National Report for the Convention of Biological Diversity. NBSAP Secretariat, Tehran. 98 pp. (member of the drafting group) 

50. National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Secretariat, 2000. The first National Report for the Convention of Biological Diversity. NBSAP Secretariat, Tehran. 62 pp. (member of the drafting group) [Link via ResearchGate]

51. Pazuki A, Nazari V, 1995. New butterflies for Iranian fauna (I). Additions and corrections to the list given by Eckweiler & Hofmann (1980). Journal of Entomological Society of Iran 15: 53–63, 25. [Link via ResearchGate]

 

Seminar on Enhanced species discovery and taxonomy of micro-moths using DNA barcoding

What is Entomology?

Entomology is a branch of Zoology focused on the scientific study of insects and arachnids. As a fundamental and taxon-based discipline, entomology contributes to a wide range of biological and zoological fields such as molecular genetics, behavior, neuroscience, biomechanics, biochemistry, systematics, physiology, developmental biology, ecology, morphology, and paleontology. Entomologists usually specialize in particular groups of insects or aspects of their life; they may be interested in the relationship of certain insects to the environment or humans, or in the evolutionary relationships between insect groups or between certain insects and their hosts or parasites.

The relationship between insects and humans dates back to pre-historic times through agriculture and bee-keeping. Insects appear in cave paintings and in cuneiform and hieroglyphic writings from Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. In the Western world, Greek philosophers Aristotle and Pliny were the first to write about insects, even though their ideas were not exactly scientific. Scientific study of insects in the modern sense began relatively recently, in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Butterflies have been especially of interest because of their metamorphosis, which was taken as a symbol of death and rebirth by the ancients. Listen to his presentation here if you want to learn more: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/707518176

Lepidopterists are entomologists who study insects in the order Lepidoptera, i.e. butterflies and moths. Lepidopterists like Vazrick take a keen interest in the study of various aspects of butterflies. In a former discussion on “barcoding species for Quarantine/plant protection”, Vazrick mentions that DNA barcoding simplifies the process of sorting specimens. Listen to his presentation here if you want to learn more: https://vimeo.com/10036905

Protecting biodiversity for future generations is now a universal goal, and insects are a crucial component of the biodiversity puzzle. Entomologists like Vazrick believe that we cannot protect what we do not know. The process of discovery and description of new species is a specialized task that can be facilitated only through collaborative work with museums and other specialists. DNA barcoding is among the newest tools that allows biologists everywhere to sort specimens and discover undescribed species in a fast and cost-effective way. 

 

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