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Welcome!

The Invertebrate Collections is one of the University Museum’s large collections of scientific zoological material. “Invertebrates” is a traditional grouping for animals without a backbone. At our museum, like in many other scientific collections, invertebrates is the remaining part of the animal kingdom when vertebrates, insects, spiders and millipedes (entomology) have been accounted for. Invertebrates therefore is a diverse group of very different animals with often spectacular ways of life in many types of environments. We still know very little about many species of invertebrates because they are difficult to study and identify. Many species are also still undiscovered. Scientific collections are fundamental sources of knowledge about our zoological diversity. On these pages we want to inform about the contents of the collections and about past and current activities.

Our permanent web pages can be found here

For norsk versjon av bloggen, klikk her

PhD thesis defence

On June 7th Nina Therese Mikkelsen presented her thesis ” Phylogeny and systematics of Caudofoveata (Mollusca, Aplacophora)” for a public audience.  She was questioned by the opponents dr Mikael Thollesson, University of Uppsala, and dr Suzanne Williams, The Natural History Museum of London, and did an excellent performance explaining the results of her studies.

Fieldwork and friendship!

Drøbak 6th till 15th of May 2018

The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative  funded project Sea slugs of Southern Norway  had its official kick-off with its first expedition to Drøbak, a little village on the east side of the Oslofjord about 40 km south of Oslo. Main goal, start mapping the sea slug species diversity of that area which we will continue to do so along different carefully chosen locations along the Southern Norwegian coast. But besides finding sea slugs, we had another ambition; meeting up with our hard-working collaborators that would help us out during our stay.

Sea slugs of Norway, a love story

Sea slugs are often a diver’s favourite encounter underwater. They are colourful, have an overall attractive appearance, with their little rhinophores exploring their surroundings, gliding slowly through their habitat.

Caronella pellucida, photographed by Anders Schouw

They are exciting to photograph as, besides pretty, it can be technically very challenging to get a good shot of them since they are often just a few millimetres long. Despite being popular animals, relatively little is known about them. Just recently the attention from the scientific community started to grow, and manuscripts with new records and species for Norway become to be published. However, the target areas were often the Northern territories of Norway rather than the South, and this resulted in a huge gap lasting already for about 80 years within the scientific literature for this particular area. About time to do something about it!

The citizens that are scientists

Southern Norway alone has a coastline of about 8000km, which makes it a monstrous task to really get a proper picture of the sea slug biodiversity (let alone cryptic species variation, invasive species etc.). Therefore, we asked for help from the so-called citizen scientists. Citizen scientist are volunteers that help out scientists by providing them with data as a hobby in their spare time. Many of them are not to be considered amateurs though, due to their many years of experience and enthusiasm, they are professionals when it comes to their knowledge of species and their habitats. Such a tight community is also found here in Norway within the dive community, and during this project of our hunt for sea slug species, we heavily rely on their input and willingness in order to make the mission a success.

Back to Drøbak

It was not a blind pick on the map to go to Drøbak as our main starting point. Drøbak is strategically chosen as former literature describes it as a type locality for a variety of the Norwegian sea slug species. Besides, the University of Oslo has its Marine Biology field station, with sleeping facilities, located here. Near the field station, there is also the – all famous – dive centre called Gylte, were many dive enthusiasts rent their gear, fill up their pressure tanks and go diving in the centres’ backyard. Not surprisingly one of the workers of Gylte is big sea slug enthusiast; let me introduce you to Tine Kinn Kvamme

Manuel Malaquias with Tine Kinn Kvamme

There was great excitement from both parties to finally meet in person and she was able to help us get in touch with other citizen scientists and explain in detail about all the species she encountered in the last years. The list was impressive,and a valuable contribution to our project;

Tine’s sea slug species check list for the area

That week we managed to meet up with her several times, and she brought us more sea slugs. We introduced her to the laboratory facilities in the Marine field station, where she had the opportunity to look at her beloved Doto’s in detail with help of a microscope, while telling us more about other possible interesting locations and possibilities to collect different species! This is what it is all about, happy scientists and happy citizen scientists!

Doto fragilis

Two other members of our team that joined us during the length of our stay in Drøbak were the respected divers Anders Schouw (from Bergen) and famous underwater photographer Nils Aukan (from Kristiansund).

Anders Schouw showing his photography skills in the laboratory

It was an honour to be able to work together with them, Anders proved his photography skills both underwater and above water to be of incredible valuable input and Nils great knowledge of Marine life and amazing photography skills made me and Manuel blush on our cheeks more than we would like to admit. They both dived every single day during our stay and brought sea slugs back to the laboratory where we together could identify, photograph, measure and prepare them for transport back to Bergen. Nils Aukan is a known sensation within the Norwegian diving community and ever since the project started we have received many samples from him. He is able to photograph the species in their natural habitat capturing the tiniest details, a valuable asset to later identify the species properly.

Fjordia lineata photographed by Nils Aukan

Anders is the guy every expedition need; he knows everyone, everywhere, and we’re very happy to announce his decision to join us in our next field work trip to Hagesund (in July, facilitated with a blog, obviously).

The gate to grass

At the spot we also met with the citizen scientist Roy Dahl, his son and Heine Jensen

Heine Jensen with Manuel Malaquias

A snapshot of the group, from left to right; A snapshot of the group, from left to right; Roy Dahl’s son, Roy Dahl, Anders Schouw, Cessa Rauch and Nils Aukan

Roy and Heine have been collaborating and sampling for us in the Oslofjord area. They know their favourite diving spots on the back of their hands and shared with us all the details one needs to know about the sea slugs’ habitat. They knew about species diversity, where to find but also when to find them. There is some change in sea slugs’ diversity when it comes to different times of the year, some species thrive just before spring starts, others are more regularly seen throughout the summer. All interesting and valuable information for us in order to see the bigger picture. Most diving spots were easy accessible and well facilitated, but sometimes the hunt for different habitats does not always favour you in a laidback access to the water. Manuel and I were a little obsessed with probing for sea slugs within the seagrass meadows of the Oslofjord. You never know what you can find there! Healthy seagrass meadows are the nursery, hiding, and hunting ground of many marine organisms, and we would not let the opportunity to study this habitat pass by!

Facelina bostoniensis on sea grass photographed by Anders Schouw

Anders was able to find an area of seagrass that seemed to be accessible from the Google maps point of view. But was it in real life though? After driving around, back and forwards for almost an hour we sadly realized that the only land access was through a private condo, closed by a gate and inaccessible to us. Whilst driving around a little unsure about what the next plan of action would be, Anders decided to use his communication skills to find out if there was another way. By a matter of luck, chance, sign – you name it – Anders asked the way to a person that happen to live there and to have a remote device that could open the gate giving us access to the park. All together it took us a whole afternoon to figure out how to get to the seagrass meadow and I think we can vote for Heine Jensen as our most patient citizen scientist! As we were driving in many circles to find the sea grass meadows, Heine jokingly mentioned, ‘look, there is grass just next to the road, why don’t we look for our slugs there’. We definitely own him one for his stamina!

You reap what you sow

After 10 days the sea slug teller was on approximately 39 species, and this without the species collected by the citizen scientists before our fieldtrip. All together we have so far assembled 43 species from areas in the Oslofjord. The work has just begun, and as a consequence of our successful actions in Drøbak, we now have to face the mountain of work waiting; structuring our harvest and make some sense of it all in the light of evolution.

For frequent updates, awesome images, and much more information about sea slugs in Norway than you ever imagined encountering, join the projects Facebook group 

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank our collaborators during this project; Torkild Bakken from Trondheim University who was also part of the Drøbak team for a few days, and our dedicated citizen scientists; Anders Schouw, Nils Aukan, Tine Kinn Kvamme, Roy Dahl and Heine Jensen. We hope that during the two years of this project we will have many more chances to meet and that our teamwork continues to be fruitfully!

By Cessa Rauch and Manuel Malaquias

Guest researcher: Marla

Marla, who has been visiting several times to work on our amphipod collections, sent us this “travelogue” from her longest stay. In her own words:

I am a third year PhD student, and my project is shared between the University of Southampton at the National Oceanography centre and the Natural History Museum in London. I am supervised by Dr Tammy Horton (NOC), Dr Andrew Gates (NOC), Dr Phil Fenberg (UoS), Dr Miranda Lowe (NHM), and Dr Andrea Waschenbach (NHM).

I spent 8 glorious weeks in Bergen working with the invertebrate collections at the Department of Natural History of the University Museum of Bergen (UiB) together with the wonderful Anne Helene Tandberg and Endre Willassen. Also a massive thank you to Katrine Kongshavn, Morten Stokkan, Jon Kongsrud, Luis Felipe Martell Hernández, Aino Hosia, Tom Alvestad, Nataliya Budaeva, Manuel Malaquias, Louise Lindbloom, and Kenneth Meland for your help in the lab and support with my project and lunchtime conversations!

I arrived to Bergen mid- September just in time for the 2017 UCI Road World Championships! As a huge fan (and very amateur road cyclist) this was such a bonus to have the chance to see it. The race took over the town, and one late afternoon Anne Helene and I climbed half-way up Mount Fløyen to watch the men’s Time Trial. The sun was out, the streets were packed, atmosphere was electric and we had prime seats–I couldn’t wait to see Chris Frome (GB) and Tom Dumoulin (NL) cycling in action.  It was a fantastic afternoon!

Anne Helene and I enjoying the afternoon UCI race from our prime viewing spot

The classic road graffiti to show support to the cyclists. Here Tom Dumoulin is forever immortalized on Mount Fløyen.

Tom Dumoulin won first place in the men’s Time Trial, Chris Froome took third.

Back in the lab…

I was working with amphipods from the family Phoxocephalidae from the Western African Waters, focussing particularly on the amphipods from the sub-family Harpiniinae [crustacea; Amphipoda; Phoxocephalidae; Harpiniinae]. Phoxocephalid amphipods are highly speciose and abundant in deep sea sediments globally. Species identity is critical to understanding mechanisms driving observed biodiversity patterns and to asses community change. The aim of the project while in Bergen was to use both DNA barcoding and traditional morphological taxonomic approaches in order to create a robust library of Phoxocephalidae species from the poorly known West African waters. Large scale projects such as Marine Invertebrates of West Africa (MIWA) provide the perfect opportunity for collaborative work! More about the MIWA-project can be found here.

The MIWA project submitted over 2700 tissue samples from over 600 morphospecies for DNA barcode sequencing, including Crustaceans, Echinoderms, Molluscs and Polychaetes. Out of these, 45 samples were from the family Phoxocephalidae, the target taxa. Working with Dr Anne Helene Tandberg and Prof Endre Willassen, the sequenced MIWA Phoxcephalid voucher specimens were dissected and mounted as permanent microscope slides to morphologically score them. Later, the phylogenetic analysis based on all molecular and morphological characters will be compared. Each appendage was photographed on the modular (Leica CTR6000) microscope and the images were stacked, resulting in incredible photos!

Harpinia abyssi P7. Photo: M. Spencer

As a result of some of this work, we think that we have identified 4 new species to the genus of Basuto. The genus was previously monotypic, with the type-locality in South Africa. Now we are awaiting the holotypes and paratypes to arrive so that we can compare. Together with Anne Helene, Endre Willassen and Tammy Horton, I am currently writing my first publication, formally describing these specimens as new species. Stay tuned for further updates!

Basuto specimen pereopod 5. Photo: M. Spencer

Basuto specimen Mandible, Photo: M. Spencer

At work in the DNA lab

Working with Anne Helene within the molecular biology labs at the University of Bergen, I had the chance to develop taxon specific primers and PCR conditions for the Harpiniinae MIWA specimens which were not successfully sequenced with the Universal primers. As a starting point, an additional 13 MIWA specimens had tissue extracted for DNA, and then dissected and permanent slides were made in order to morphologically score them. Each appendage was photographed and the images stacked. The primers and PCR conditions are a work in progress; however, this was a very successful trip resulting in a lot of data to analyse!

I also had the chance to explore the fantastic city of Bergen! I absolutely loved my time spent here- I generated a lot of data and learned so many new skills and new insight into my PhD project. Win-win! I look forward to returning again one day.

-Marla

WoRMS is presenting ten astounding marine species of the last decade (2007-2017)

Marivagia stellata, the starry sea wanderer Galil & Gershwin. Photo by Shevy Rothman. CC-BY-NC-SA

As part of the celebration of the first decade of WoRMS – the World Register of Marine Species, ten of the most astonishing new species from the big old blue is given a special presentation here.

 

Artwork of Ramisyllis multicaudata by Sarah Faulwetter

Click your way over and read about the Deep-sea lyre sponge – Chondrocladia lyra, the Palauan primitive cave eel – Protanguilla palau, the Deep-sea acochlidiacean slug – Bathyhedyle boucheti, the Tree syllid worm – Ramisyllis multicaudata, the Starry sea wanderer jelly – Marivagia stellata, the The Hoff crab – Kiwa tyleri, the Squidworm – Teuthidodrilus samae, the Jesse Ausubel’s ‘terrible claw’ lobster – Dinochelus ausubeli, the  ‘living fossil’ octocoral – Nanipora kamurai, and the Scaly-foot snail – Chrysomallon squamiferum. 

Photo by David Shale, CC-BY-NC-SA

Chrysomallon squamiferum, Scaly-foot snail. Photo by David Shale, CC-BY-NC-SA

Link: Ten astounding marine species of the last decade (2007-2017)

Marie Curie project results

The results of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie project PRODEEP that has been done by Nataliya Budaeva and Endre Willassen at the Department of Natural History were published as a popular science article online: https://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/220363_en.html.

Choose one of six languages to learn more about how marine bristle worms colonize the deep ocean!


Budaeva N., Schepetov D., Zanol J., Neretina T., Willassen E. 2016. When molecules support morphology: Phylogenetic reconstruction of the family Onuphidae (Eunicida, Annelida) based on 16S rDNA and 18S rDNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94(B): 791–801.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2015.10.011

The amphipods around Iceland – fresh special issue

IceAGE stations with amphipods. Red stations are analysed in the special issue. Fig 1 from Brix et al 2018

As the IceAGE-project presents their amphipod results in a special issue of ZooKeys, the invertebrate collections are represented with co-authors in 4 of the 6 papers. All papers in the special issue are of course Open Access.

Endre, Anne Helene and IceAGE-collaborators Anne-Nina and Amy have examined the Rhachotropis species (family Eusiroidea) from Norwegian and Icelandic waters, using material both from NorAmph and IceAGE. We see possible cryptic species, and we described to separate populations (and Arctic and one North Atlantic) of Rhachotropis aculeata.

Rhachotropis aff. palporum from IceAGE material. Fig 4G in Lörz et al, photographer: AHS Tandberg

Anne Helene has worked with Wim Vader from Tromsø Museum on Amphilochidae. The new species Amphilochus anoculus is formally described, and amphipod identifiers working with North-Atlantic material will be happy fo find a key to all Amphilochidae in the area. These minute and fragile animals are often lumped as family only, but the times for that are now over…

Key to the Amphilochidae from North Atlantic waters. Fig 14 from Tandberg & Vader 2018

Neighbour Joining tree of COI-sequences from IceAGE. The coloured lines on the side show possible interesting regions for further studies. Fig. 2 from Jazdzewska et al 2018

A paper on DNA fingerprinting of Icelandic amphipods is presented by Ania (who visited us two years ago to work on Phoxocephalid amphipods) and 10 coauthors. This study gives a very nice material to compare with the NorAmph barcodes, and some of the interesting results are discussed in the two first papers.

A summary-paper on the amphipod-families around Iceland (Brix et al) gives an overview of both biogeography and ecology of the amphipods in this area. This paper also presents faunistic data on Amphilochidae from the earlier BioIce project, where researchers from Bergen, Trondheim and Reykjavik sampled Icelandic waters.

Anne Helene

 

 

Literature:

Brix S, Lörz A-N, Jazdzweska AM, Hughes LE, Tandberg AHS, Pabis K, Stransky B, Krapp-Schickel T, Sorbe JC, Hendrycks E, Vader W, Frutos I, Horton T, Jazdzewski K, Peart R, Beermann J, Coleman CO, Buhl-Mortensen L, Corbari L, Havermans C, Tato R, Campean AJ (2018) Amphipod family distributions around Iceland. ZooKeys 731: 1-53 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19854

Jazszewska AM, Corbari L, Driskell A, Frutos I, Havermans C, Hendrycks E, Hughes L, Lörz A-N, Stransky B, Tandberg AHS, Vader W, Brix S (2018) A genetic fingerprint of Amphipoda from Icelandic waters – the baseline for further biodiversity and biogeography studies. ZooKeys 731: 55-73 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19913

Lörz A-N, Tandberg AHS, Willassen E, Driskell A (2018) Rhachotropis (Eusiroidea, Amphipoda) from the North East Atlantic. ZooKeys 731: 75-101 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19814

Tandberg AHS, Vader W (2018) On a new species of Amphilochus from deep and cold Atlantic waters, with a note on the genus Amphilochopsis (Amphipoda, Gammaridea, Amphilochidae). ZooKeys 731: 103-134 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19899

The 7th International Barcode of Life (IBOL) conference

 IBOL 2017 took place in the most fantastic venue imaginable: inside Kruger National Park in South Africa! Hosted by the African Centre for DNA Barcoding (ACDB) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ),  the conference gathered ~450 participants from 72 different countries for a week of networking, knowledge sharing, and unforgettable experiences.

Participants of IBOL 2017. Photo by J. Potgieter

Located at the conference centre in Skukuza rest camp, IBOL 2017 filled every available room with sessions ranging from forensic applications of barcoding to the most cutting edge technology. A excellent overview of the topic trends is presented as an article that can be found here (.pdf, open access)

Norway was well represented, with 15 delegates and 23 contributions from various universities, museums and organisations. You can read more about that, and about Trondheim being the host of the next IBOL conference (to take place 17th-20th of June 2019) here (only in Norwegian atm).

The invertebrate collections of UM Bergen participated with five posters and three lightning talks on marine barcoding: three posters focussing on Norwegian waters, and two related to our MIWA-project (Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa, blog here). A lightning presentation is a five minute talk where the author gets to present their poster before the poster session.

Attending from UM were Jon, Tom and Katrine – as well as Lloyd from Ghana, who has been a regular guest researcher here for some time now, working with the MIWA polychaetes together with us.

Tom, Jon and Katrine on their way to Kruger (photo: THR)

Tom, Katrine, Jon and Lloyd attending the game drive during the conference (Photo: THR)

Our contributions:

Our five posters

Barcoding of marine invertebrates from Norway through NorBOL
Katrine Kongshavn, Jon A. Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad, Endre Willassen

Investigating the marine invertebrate fauna of the West African continental shelf with DNA barcodes
Endre Willassen, Jon A. Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn, Manuel A.E. Malaquias, Tom Alvestad

Building a comprehensive barcode reference library of the Norwegian Echinodermata through NorBOL – an ongoing effort
Tom Alvestad, Katrine Kongshavn, Jon A Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Kennet Lundin, Hans T Rapp, Endre Willassen

Diversity and species distributions of Glyceriformia (Annelida, Polychaeta) in shelf areas off western Africa
Lloyd Allotey, Tom Alvestad, Jon A Kongsrud, Akanbi B Williams, Katrine Kongshavn, Endre Willassen

Assessing species diversity in marine bristle worms (Annelida, Polychaeta): integrating barcoding with traditional morphology-based taxonomy
Jon A Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Eivind Oug, Tom Alvestad, Arne Nygren, Katrine Kongshavn, Nataliya Budaeva, Maria Capa, Endre Willassen

All the posters are available on the conference website. Do make sure to check the photo galleries there as well!

It was occasionally challenging to focus on the excellent presentations, as temptations like this kept appearing – but we prevailed, and return with a lot of new knowledge and acquaintances.

That’s not to say that we did not make the most of our free time to go and explore the park!

Here are some of the amazing encounters Kruger NP offered us (Katrine’s photos):

 

We had a fantastic time, our thanks to the organizers and the lovely team of volunteers for all their hard work!

-Jon, Tom, Lloyd & Katrine

PS: If you wish to stay updated on news from the conference, follow @DNABarcodes, #IBOL2017, and for news on the upcoming IBOL2019; @norwbol on Twitter

Exposing the Indian Ocean staggering diversity: fieldtrip to Nuarro, northern Mozambique (October 2017)

Pursuing our goal to understand the diversity, origin and biogeography of the Indo-West Pacific biota, we went back to Mozambique to continue the exploration of the reef systems of the country. After a first fieldtrip to the subtropical southern coast of Mozambique in 2014, and a second during 2015 to the tropical Quirimbas islands (Vamizi I.) not far from the border with Tanzania, we visited this time for two weeks between the 15–28 October 2017 the coastal pristine reefs and mangroves of Memba District in Nuarro, Nangata Bay, together with Prof. João Macuio from the University Lurio, Pemba and Dr Yara Tibiriça based at Nuarro Lodge, that kindly organized the expedition.

The staggering diversity of the tropical Indo-Pacific is well known and the area between the Philippines, Indonesia, and New Guinea (the Coral Triangle) is famous for hosting the highest marine diversity in the planet. However, for various reasons (political, economic, etc.) the Indian Ocean has been comparatively less surveyed, and much fewer studies are available for this region. Some recent publications are though showing that for corals and molluscs, at least, the region is extremely diverse, nearly comparable with the coral triangle.

We want to understand why is this region so diverse and whether the Indian Ocean harbours similar or a different faunal composition compared to the West Pacific Ocean. The traditional view is that most tropical species are broadly distributed across the Indo-West Pacific, but recent evidence from DNA studies suggests otherwise, but this is not yet well understood. If significant differences are found, then, understanding what may have driven speciation across both realms becomes a major quest.

Jorunna rubescens

Phyllidia varicosa

Plakobranchus sp.

Reticulidia suzanneae

Nuarro is a remote place, four and half hours driving from Nampula international airport, half of them through earth roads. It is located in beautiful Nangata Bay lined by fine white sands and calm turquoise waters. The area is characterized by a large diversity of marine habitats like sand flats, coral bommies, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and coralline drop-off walls plunging into the deep blue.

The expedition had its basecamp at Nuarro Lodge, an eco-lodge offering diving facilities and a research center. The lodge besides its hostel activities is engaged in social, educational, heath, and nature conservation programmes with the local communities helping to improve education standards for the younger generations, mitigate the impact of native diseases like malaria, and the sustainable use of nature resources. For this last goal a marine protected area was created in 2008.

João Macuio and Manuel Malaquias during a nudi photo session

Local fishermen in a wooden canoe

Measuring giant clams underwater

Yara Tibiriçá databasing the catch of the day

During two weeks we have surveyed the area for marine molluscs (sea slugs) and studied the impact of the marine protected area in the conservation of the highly sensitive and threatened giant clams (Tridacna spp.). The days at Nuarro began early, around 5.30–6am, with the sun already out and high in the blue sky. Waking up was not difficult, with the awesome strident ensemble of sounds from the many local different birds and the monkeys running and jumping on the thatched roofs of our housing! First sampling of the day around 8.30am, followed by a second one after lunchtime. The evenings were dedicated to study, photograph, identify, and database the catch of the day. We have collected approximately 68 species of sea slugs; 11 are new records to Mozambique and an additional 12 still undescribed. The conservation status of the populations of giant-clams was evaluated in areas under fishing pressure by the local communities and inside the marine reserve for comparison, and it was obvious the positive impact of the marine protect area.

Monkey jumping on the roof of our accommodation

A “family” of moray eels

Collecting in the mangroves

Crown-of-thorns starfish feeding on coral

Detail of a gorgonian coral

Garden eels

Nangata Bay, Nuarro

The flatworm Pseudoceros lindae

The days were busy and went far too fast, but there was time for a short social programme where we paid a visit to the local village and visited the primary school built by the lodge and met a group of local activists that work with the community to raise awareness for issues concerning hygiene, malaria, and other health matters, which regrettably still claim lives in the region far beyond acceptable numbers on the XXI century. Before the trip to Nuarro I was challenged to take a football ball with me for the local team. I have obviously eagerly done it, and it was a great delight to the see the joy of the players of the “Real Nangata” playing around with their new ball!

Primary school build by the lodge at Nangata village

Real Nangata football club

View of Nangata village with a baubau tree

The Nuarro expedition would not have been possible without the gratitude and support of the Nuarro Eco-Lodge to which I am deeply indebted.  I am also thankful to Prof. Isabel Silva from the University Lurio, Pemba and to the Fisheries Department of the Cabo Delgado Province from granting collecting and exporting permits.

Manuel António E. Malaquias, Associate Professor

Natural History Museum of Bergen, Norway

 

Bryozoan barcoding

Haeckel Bryozoa.jpg
By Ernst Haeckel – Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 23: Bryozoa (see here, here and here), Public Domain, Link You can also find the whole, gorgeous book by Haeckel here, courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

I have spent the past week and a half getting acquainted with a rather odd – yet beautiful – group of animals, the Bryozoa, moss animals. These colony-forming, mostly marine, animals are small as individuals, but the colonies can grow quite large. Globally there are around 5000 extant species recorded, with a further 15 000 species in the fossil record. We have colleagues in Oslo who work on both the fossil and the current fauna to better understand micro- and macroevolution, you can read more about that here (og her, på norsk).

Sampling site of barcoded Bryozoans in the BOLD database

Sampling site of barcoded Bryozoans in the BOLD database

This is the first attempt at barcoding bryozoans through NorBOL, and it shows (map above); hopefully we will get more dots on the map for our region soon!

This may not be an easy group to get genetic barcodes from, though – I’ve been in communication with several of the (wonderfully helpful!) experts in the field, and the consensus seems to be that getting a barcode (from the region defined as THE barcode, the 5’ end of COI) will be difficult, and that we may anticipate “..a colourful array of contaminants, as well as nuclear mitochondrial pseudogenes”. Yay. Well, we won’t know until we try!

Together with colleagues from the Natural History Collections in Gothenburg we have assembled a plate of tissue samples from Swedish and Norwegian bryozoan that I will send to the CCDB facilities for sequencing next week. We have an impressive 58 different species (1-3 specimens of each) included on the plate, as well as a few specimens that are (not yet) identified to species.

n344_w1150

Bicellariella ciliata for barcoding

Bicellariella ciliata for barcoding

The colonies can be branching, encrusting, lacelike, lumpy…and at times pretty close to invisible! I’ve had to spend some time looking for good illustrations to know what to sample from… there are often multiple species in a jar, as well as other animals – hopefully I managed.

The specimens on the plate

The specimens on the plate

We’re treating this as a trial plate: is it possible to barcode museum material of bryozoans through the general pipeline, or will we need to get creative?

I’ll make a new post once the verdict is in – let’s hope for surprisingly high success rates!


Some further reading:

Lee et al 2011: DNA Barcode Examination of Bryozoa (Class: Gymnolaemata) in Korean SeawaterKorean J. Syst. Zool. Vol. 27, No. 2: 159-163, July 2011 ISSN 2233-7687
DOI 10.5635/KJSZ.2011.27.2.159

Wikipedia has a nice post on Bryozoa