Featured post

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

Sea slugs from Vestfold

Larvik & Sandefjord 22.10.2019 – 27.10.2019

From October 22 to October 27, Sea slugs of Southern Norway crossed the Hardangervidda mountain pass to pay a visit to Larvik Dykkeklubb (LDK) and Sandefjord Dykkeklubb (SDK). Vestfold, in particularly the Larvik area, was a thorn in the side for the sea slug project. With fieldwork and collection trips covering most of the Hordaland area (Bergen, Espegrend), Rogaland (Egersund), Mandal (Vest-Augder), Drøbak (Oslofjord area) a lot was left to be discovered still for Aust-Agder and Vestfold. Therefore, a visit to Vestfold was very high on our bucket list.

With Winter just around the corner, we decided to squeeze in a short fieldwork trip to Larvik just before the end of 2019. Me and Anders Schouw drived from Bergen to Larvik with our rented caddy to meet up with Tine Kinn Kvamme and members of the LDK. On Tuesday morning, after packing our mobile laboratory in the car, we drove off to Larvik. In the early evening we arrived at the LDK, there we were welcomed by Lene Borgersen from LDK, who facilitated access to the clubhouse for sorting sea slugs during our stay. That evening was also a club members evening, and I took that opportunity to give a presentation about sea slugs and the Sea slugs of Southern Norway project

It was a great evening talking about sea slugs with interested club members while eating pizza! The next day Tine, Anders and I met up with LDK member Mikkel Melsom, who joined to help on our hunting for sea slugs

Picture 2. Some sea slugs from Larvik; from left to right; Limacia clavigera, Edmundsella pedata, Diaphorodoris luteocincta, Tritonia hombergii, Tritonia lineata and Cadlina laevis. Photo credits Anders Schouw

Later that day we met up at the SDK clubhouse with Stein Johan Fongen, where I had the opportunity to once again talk about sea slugs this time to the SDK members. This was a very special evening because among the audience, besides SDK members, we also had students from Sandefjord videregående skole (Sandefjord High School)

Sea slug presentation for students of the Sandefjord videregående skole and Sandefjord Dykkeklubb members. Photo credits Tine Kinn Kvamme

In the following days several members of the SDK also joint us collecting sea slugs. Despite the fact that October is known for being not an ideal season to find sea slugs (most species are observed during Winter and (early) Spring) we still somehow ended up with hours of sorting work at the Larvik clubhouse

Cessa Rauch & Anders Schouw sorting sea slugs in the Larvik clubhouse. Photo credits Tine Kinn Kvamme

Overall, we collected 21 different species, all newly registered specimens for the project with regard to this part of the country. It would be great to see what the species abundance would be during a sea slug season like February or March!

Overview of the species collected at Larvik and the Sandefjord area

Besides sea slugs and enthusiastic club members, another highlight of the week was a visiting seal at SDK! On our last day of fieldwork, a young seal was very bold and decided to rest close to the clubhouse in the harbor. It let people come up really close, which was great for making cute seal pictures. Cherry on the cake, in my opinion!

Young seal in the harbor close to the Sandejord Dykkeklubb. Photo credits Anders Schouw

On Sunday the tree of us had to say goodbye, Tine would go back to her hometown Oslo and Anders and I would cross the snowy mountains again back to Bergen. It was a short but sweet visit and great opportunity to meet members of Larvik and Sandefjord dykkerklubbs. I therefore want to thank LDK and SDK for their interest, enthusiasm and help for the few days Anders, Tine and I were around. I surely hope we will meet again next year, and find many more sea slugs. And of course, thanks to Anders and Tine for helping again, hope we can share many more sea slug adventures together

Left to right; Tine Kinn Kvamme, Cessa Rauch and Anders Schouw in front of the Larvik Dykkeklubb were most of the ‘lab’ work was done. Photo credits Lene Borgersen

More sea slugs: 

Do you want to see more beautiful pictures of sea slugs of Norway? Check out the Sea slugs of Southern Norway Instagram account; and don’t forget to follow us. Become a member of the Sea Slugs of Southern Norway Facebook group, stay updated and join the discussion! Hunger for more sea slug adventures, check our latest blog posts.

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

– Cessa

Invertebrates in harbours

Harbours and marinas are interesting places to look for marine creatures. These environments are usually teeming with life, but a closer look often reveals that their communities are strikingly different from the ones living in adjacent natural areas. Piers and pontoons offer new surfaces for many algae and animals to grow, and the maritime traffic of large and small boats allow for an intense movement of organisms, making harbours some of the preferred spots for newcomers (what we called introduced species) to settle. Many surprises can be expected when sampling for invertebrates in these man-made habitats, which is why our artsprosjekt NorHydro teamed up with project PolyPorts (based at the NTNU University Museum) to explore the hidden diversity of worms and hydroids in the Norwegian harbours.

I was very happy to collect polyps in sunny Southern Norway.

Last year, PolyPorts sampled extensively in some of the main Norwegian harbours (including Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger); but for this year’s sampling season our two projects headed first south (to the harbours and marinas of Sørlandet), and then west (to Bergen).

In the south, we sampled several ports and marinas from Kristiansand to Brevik (including Lillesand, Grimstad, Tvedestrand, and Risør, thus covering a large portion of southern Norway). In Vestlandet we concentrated our efforts in the area of the port of Bergen, Puddefjorden and Laksevåg, as well as Dolvika.

 

Although it could be surprising that heavily trafficked (and sometimes quite polluted) harbours support a high diversity of invertebrates, this was actually the case for every single port we surveyed.

All our sampling areas had pontoon pilings and mooring chains covered in colourful seaweeds and animals, and reefs of native and introduced mussels and oysters that provided a home for sea squirts, skeleton shrimps, bryozoans and hydroids. For NorHydro, perhaps the most surprising result came from the brackish areas that we analyzed, where large populations of Cordylophora caspia were found. This species is not native to Norway and had not been observed in so many Norwegian localities before, making for an interesting finding to explore even further through the analysis of DNA.

– Luis

Keep up with the activities of NorHydro here in the blog, on the project’s facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

World Congress of Malacology 2019: 10 – 17 August 2019

On August 10, four delegates from the University Museum of Bergen made their way to Monterey Bay California, USA.

Attending the World congress of Malacology 2019, from left to right; Jenny Neuhaus, Justine Siegwald, Manuel Malaquias & Cessa Rauch

This year the World Congress of Malacology took place at the Asilomar conference grounds in Pacific Grove, Monterey. Monterey Bay is well known among many marine biologists due to its world-famous aquarium and aquarium research institute (MBARE), many marine protected areas (7; including the Asilomar State Marine reserve, close to where the conference was held), Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, Steinbeck Center (although located in Salinas, close enough to make it count). The latter was named after the famous marine biologists John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts from the Monterey County; Among other works they contributed to marine biology with their famous books ‘The sea of Cortez’ and ‘Between Pacific Tides’. All in all, Monterey Bay seems like an exciting place to be for us marine biologists.

The World Congress of Malacology was organized and chaired by the famous Terry Gosliner (Terry described more than 1000 species of sea slugs!) a senior curator of the California Academy of Sciences. About 300 participants contributed to a very lively and busy scheduled week

Some of the participants of the World Congress of Malacology 2019

Registration for the conference started on Sunday the 11th of August, but Monday was the real kick off of the program with fabulous keynote speakers such as Geerat Vermeij, David Lindberg, Susan Kidwell, etc.. During the poster session Jenny Neuhaus and Cecilie Sørensen, two of our master students working in close collaboration with the Museum project Sea Slugs of Southern Norway have presented their preliminary results. Unfortunately, Cecilie could not join us due to time constraints, and the poster was presented by Cessa

Justine presenting her work on Scaphander

On Tuesday we had a crammed agenda with multiple speakers talking at the same time, divided over the different halls in a variety of sessions. It was a busy day of running around trying to catch those talks one were most interested in. Justine had her talk in the Systematics session about her PhD research on Scaphander titled; First global phylogeny of the deep-sea gastropod genus Scaphander reveals higher diversity, a possible need for generic revision and polyphyly across oceans. It received a lot of attention and numerous questions afterwards, it was great to see how her research was perceived with so much curiosity and enthusiasm.

Wednesday we had a day off filled with several excursions. Jenny went to the whale watching trip, Justine went to spot marine mammals and Cessa to a trip along the coast to meet and greet the Californian red giants. The trips were all well organized and a very nice break off the week as the many presentations and sessions made the days long and intense. The whale watching trip took place in Monterey Bay and Jenny was lucky enough to observe the mighty blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus, plenty of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and several sunfish (Mola mola) swimming at the surface. It was an incredible experience for her to be able to watch the animals thrive in the great Pacific Ocean.

Whale-watching with Jenny Neuhaus in Monetery Bay

Cessa walking in between the Californian red giants

 

The trip to South Monterey was along the California’s rugged coastline and provided one of the most spectacular maritime vistas in the world. It has peaks dotted with the coast redwoods that go all the way to the water’s edge. The trip took you to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park where we got the opportunity to walk through the redwood forest. Along the way we stopped at numerous scenic vistas, it was definitely a memorable day .

 

On Thursday, all well rested, we had another hectic day full of presentations, this time it was Cessa’s turn, she would talk about the ‘Sea slugs of Southern Norway project as an example of citizen science’ (Picture 8. Cessa presenting the sea slugs of Southern Norway project). It was placed in the citizen science session and many that attended had questions about citizen science which constituted a great opportunity to share our experience acquired during the last year of our project.

Cessa presenting the sea slugs of Southern Norway project

Friday, on the last day of the conference, Manuel had his talk about the phylogeny and diversity of the Indo-West Pacific gastropods Haloa sensu lato (Cephalaspidea: Haminoeidae): Tethyan vicariance, generic diversity, and ecological specialization. This was part of the recent collaborative work his previous PhD student Trond Oskars

Manuel Malaquias presenting his and Trond’s work on the phylogeny of Haminoeidae

Jenny Neuhaus won the best poster award for her research on Jorunna tomentosa

 

The day was closed off with a big dinner and the award ceremony. Prizes were handed out to the best student’s oral and poster presentations. Jenny was awarded by the Malacological Society of London the prize for the best student poster. This was a very exciting way to end a successful conference trip!

 

 

 

-Cessa & Jenny

Many hands (plus some tentacles and legs) make light work

In the last months, our project NorHydro has been very busy with sampling trips and outreach; we have been collecting hydroids in Southern Norway, presenting our results in festivals, and hunting for hydrozoans inside mythical monsters as well as around Bergen, the project’s hometown. All of these activities sound like a lot of work, and they certainly take a fair amount of time and effort, but the good thing is that NorHydro has never been alone in its quest for knowledge of the marine creatures: on the contrary, this has been the season of collaborations and synergies for our project!

At the end of August, for example, we attended the marine-themed festival Passion for Ocean; where we shared the stand of the University Museum of Bergen with a bunch of colleagues, all working on several kinds of marine creatures, from deep sea worms and sharks to sea slugs and moss-animals. It was a great opportunity to talk to people outside academia (including children!) about our work at the museum, and also to show living animals to an audience that does not venture too often into the sea.

Our stand at the Passion for Ocean festival was incredibly popular with the public – we feel like most of the 5-6000 people who attended P4O must have dropped by to talk to us! Photos: K. Kongshavn and M. Hosøy

Although most of the people in Bergen are familiar with jellyfish, very few of them would know that most jellies are produced by flower-looking animals living in the bottom of the ocean, so the participation of NorHydro was met with a lot of surprise and curiosity. The festival was a big success (you can read a more about the experience in the Norwegian version of the blog), and hopefully we will get the chance to join again next year.

 

 

 

Later on, in September, we set off for a field trip to the northerly area of Saltstraumen, in the vicinity of the Arctic city of Bodø. For this trip NorHydro was again in collaboration with the UMB-based project “Hardbunnfauna” (Jon and Katrine represented the hard-bottom dwelling invertebrate fauna scientists) and also with Torkild Bakken (from NTNU University Museum, with his project “#Sneglebuss”). For me, Saltstraumen was definitely an exciting place to go; the strong currents of Saltstraumen have been the cause of death of too many sailors and seamen in the past, so in the collective mind the area has become some sort of man-eating whirlpool similar to the Mediterranean Charybdis… I don’t get to sample inside a mythological creature very often! Underneath the water though, Saltstraumen is teeming with life.

Saltstraumen looks stunning and inviting when seen from the coast.

Sampling the littoral zone within the Polar Circle

During this trip, we were prepared to sample in the littoral zone (and we did), but more importantly we were lucky enough to meet several enthusiast citizen and professional scientists that were diving in the area and shared with us some of their observations.

We were treated to extremely nice underwater pictures of invertebrates by Bernard Picton and Erling Svensen, and all the participants in the activities of the local diving club (Saltstraumen Dykkecamp) were very keen in providing us with suggestions, animals, images and impressions that made our sampling trip a total success.

 

The area was dubbed as a “hydroid paradise” (likely due to the strong currents that favor the development of large hydrozoan colonies), and many new records and even perhaps new species are present in the region.

For those of you that know Norwegian, you can read another interesting account of our trip here, and there is even a small service covering our adventures filmed by the regional TV channel NRK Nordland here.

The TV service is worth a look to see the beautiful underwater images of the Norwegian coast even if you’re not familiar with the language!

– Luis

Success in the South; fieldwork in Mandal

From May 20th to 27th the sea slugs of Southern Norway team headed South to Mandal to pay a visit to the Mandal dykkerklubb and try to find more enthusiastic citizen scientist to join the sea slug project. We had a few special guests invited for the week and the team consisted of Cessa Rauch, Manuel Malaquias, Anders Schouw, Erling Svensen, Nils Aukan, Tine Kvamme and Heine Jensen. In Mandal the head of the club Erling Tønnessen would be there to help us around and organize club activities for collecting the sea slugs.

The first day basically consisted of traveling to Mandal and setting up our “hyttes” for a week of sea slug hunting. As usual we underestimated the amount of space needed to bring our ‘mobile’ lab to the camping site in Mandal. Even though a station wagon theoretically fit a family of five plus luggage, it was barely enough space for a family of sea slug hunters with their equipment.

Picture 1. We accomplished to fit everything in this rental car, picture Cessa Rauch

We ended up with a challenging Tetris game and me being squeezed between microscopes and jars in the back seat, still, no complaints! At least I was spared for driving the long hours from Bergen all the way to Mandal, that every local would be able to fix in less than 7 hours, we managed to take 12. I guess the car was heavy loaded! Manuel did a fantastic job while Anders and me where dozing off. Eventually we managed to arrive safely in Mandal and there we were greeted by our team of citizen scientists that helped us out through the week. They as well had to travel from all corners of the country; Kristiansund, Egersund, Oslo and Sarpsborg. It was quite special to arrive all together in Mandal with only one thing in our minds; finding sea slugs!

The next days in collaboration with the local Mandal dykkerklub and their fantastic club boat equipped with a lift to get people in and out of the water, we operated most of the sampling activities. After a day out collecting we would all go back to our cabins and start photographing and registering the samples.

Even though late spring is supposedly not the best season for collecting sea slugs, due to low abundance of the different species, together we were still able to collect 47 different species!

Picture 4. Overview of the species collected during fieldwork in Mandal

On our last day of the expedition, the Mandal dykkerklubb organized an evening social gathering for their members in which we had the chance to give a presentation about sea slugs and the project, and to give away a few sea slug sampling kits to all those interested.

Picture 5. Cessa and Manuel presenting the sea slugs of Southern Norway project, picture Erling Svensen

Picture 6. Interested dive members of the Mandal dykkerklubb showing up to learn more about sea slugs and having a good time, picture Erling Svensen

With every fieldwork trip we get more experienced in the organization and execution of the event and this is definitely paying off in the diversity of species we manage to collect. We were not able to register so many species before as with this fieldwork trip to Mandal. This was by far the most successful expedition and together with the joined efforts off all the excellent citizen scientist we formed a real professional sea slug team!

Picture 7. Group picture of the expedition members on board of the Mandal dykkerklubb boat, left to right; Heine Jensen, Erling Svensen, Anders Schouw, Cessa Rauch, Tine kinn kvamme, Nils Aukan and the expedition leader Manuel Malaquias in front, picture Erling Svensen

At the moment we are waiting for the first DNA barcode results in order to confirm the species diversity we found that week. An update will follow; but Manuel and I would like to take this opportunity to gratefully acknowledge all the efforts and interest of our team members of that week and the good times we had together! Hope to meet you all again soon during yet another sea slug hunt! Tusen takk!

-Cessa

Royal hydrozoans and noble snails at Her Majesty the Queen of the fjords

As part of our continuous quest for hydrozoans and snails, we (Luis and Justine) recently embarked on a trip to the mighty Hardangerfjord on board the RV Hans Brattström. This is an area that we at the museum are keen to explore, since there have not been many sampling efforts in Hardanger in recent years, at least not after the joint survey carried out in the years 1955–1963 and in which Hans Brattström himself (the scientist, not the ship) took part. The Hardangerfjord has changed a lot since the 1960s, developing into one of the major fish-farming regions of Norway while at the same time retaining its touristic and agricultural vocation, so it is very interesting to come back and see if and how the invertebrate communities have also changed.

Our trip started with warm summer temperatures and clear skies…

…but it quickly turned into a more ‘typical’ western Norwegian weather. Fortunately we were prepared for the rain!

The Queen of the fjords, as Hardangerfjord is sometimes known, is the second longest fjord in Norway and the fourth longest in the world, which means that we had quite a lot of ground to cover in our two day-trip if we wanted to have at least a brief look at the diversity of habitats and animals living in its waters. For this trip, we settled for a sampling scheme involving 9 stations distributed in the middle and outer parts of Hardanger, and we decided to leave the innermost part of the fjord for a future occasion. We looked at the animals living in the bottom of the fjord (benthos), the water column (plankton) and also deployed a couple of traps in order to catch specific critters. We explored rocky sites, sandy bottoms, muddy plains and kelp beds, and found an interesting array of animals in all our samples.

The samples came from the deployed amphipod traps, triangular dredge, and plankton net.

Some of the animals we saw (most of them were actually returned to the sea):

Without any doubt, the highlights of our trip were the snail Scaphander lignarius and the hydrozoans Eudendrium sp. and Laodicea sp. The colonies of Eudendrium sp. were relatively abundant in shell- and rock-dominated bottoms, but their small size and not reproductive status prevented us from identifying them to species level right away. For a correct identification, we now have to look closely at the stinging cells (nematocysts) of the hydroids, and of course we will also try to get the DNA barcode of some of the specimens. Unlike Eudendrium sp., which lives in the bottom of the sea, our specimens of Laodicea sp. were swimming around in the water column. This species is interesting because previous DNA analysis have shown that, although they look like each other, different species of Laodicea coexist in Norwegian waters, so we are looking forward to obtain the DNA barcode of the jellies from Hardanger to compare it with the sequences we have from other parts of Norway.

. A polyp of Eudendrium sp. (left) and the hydromedusa of Laodicea sp. (right)

Scaphander lignarius was quite the surprise finding. We really wanted to collect some individuals, but our hopes were not very high and we were mostly convinced that we would not see any during our trip. Luckily for us, there were several of them happily crawling around the mud in two of our stations! S. lignarius is one of the few representatives of the Scaphandridae family in Norway. This family of bubble snails is of particular interest to us to study the biogeography and speciation process of invertebrates in the deep sea on a worldwide scale, since members of the family are distributed all around the world, and most tend to inhabit depths below 500m. Sampling some of them will definitely help that project!

Two views of Scaphander lignarius

All around, this was a quite successful sampling trip, with many specimens collected to be added to the Museum Collections, and which will be very useful to many different research projects!

– Justine and Luis

PS: You can find more updates on our Artsdatabanken project NorHydro here in the blog, on the project’s facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

 References and related literature about the survey of the Hardangerfjors in 1955–1963

Braarud T (1961) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord, Sarsia, 1:1, 3-6.

Brattegard T (1966) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord 7. Horizontal distribution of the fauna of rocky shores, Sarsia, 22:1, 1-54.

Lie U (1967) The natural history of the Hardangerfjord 8. Quantity and composition of the zooplankton, September 1955 – September 1956, Sarsia, 30:1, 49-74.

NorHydro in Japan: chronicles of the 9th Workshop of the Hydrozoan Society

Team NorHydro at the 9th Hydrozoan Society Workshop, from left to right: Joan J. Soto (UiB – Sars Center), Aino Hosia (UiB – UMB), Marta Ronowicz (IOPAN – Poland), and Luis Martell (UiB – UMB). Picture: Mitsuko Hidaka

Earlier this summer, the small Japanese cities of Enoshima and Shimoda became the chosen scenario for the celebration of the 9th Workshop of the Hydrozoan Society, one of the most important meetings of hydrozoan scientists in the world.

We were constantly amazed by the beauty of Japanese writing, and were happy to receive name tags with our names in katakana. During the workshop we also learned some important hydrozoan-related words in Japanese

 

This workshop is held every 3-4 years, and it offers everyone attending the opportunity to present his or her results, discuss new findings, collect some samples, and meet with other specialists in the group. Our Artsdatabanken project NorHydro is all about hydrozoans, so of course we could not miss this important event!

 

 

Selecting Enoshima and Shimoda as the venues for the workshop was a very fortunate decision. These cities are located in the area of the historically important Sagami Bay, where numerous studies of hydrozoans have taken place and from where many species of hydroids and hydromedusae have been described, which helped make this meeting a commemoration of previous hydrozoan studies in Japan.

Several renowned marine biologists, including Uchida, Yamada, and the late Emperor Hirohito dedicated their time and effort to study the hydrozoans of Sagami Bay, so during the workshop we felt like we were following their steps while collecting animals and comparing results.

The workshop included several different activities.

In Enoshima we visited the aquarium (just like Emperor Hirohito did many times) and we got to know the facilities where hydromedusae are kept and raised.

In Shimoda we went on and into the water to look for hydroids, hydromedusae and siphonophores that we then identified at the laboratories of the Shimoda Marine Research Center of Tsukuba University.

Also in Shimoda we sampled at the local aquarium, and it was in this city where the talks and poster sessions were held.

The workshop started with a visit to Enoshima Aquarium…

All in all, the participation of NorHydro in the workshop was very productive. We came back home with more than 30 samples that we will analyze and use to answer some questions that we are currently working on (did you know, for example, that the Japanese specimens of Nanomia bijuga may actually belong to a different species? We’ll see what our results suggest about this!).

We also received very positive feedback about the works we presented during the meeting, and we established some important collaborations with other hydrozoologists.

Some of the critters we observed during our time in Japan:

An even more exciting result of our participation was that the presidency of the Hydrozoan Society has now come to Norway, and NorHydro will be in charge of organizing the next Hydrozoan Society Workshop here in Bergen!

The Norwegian delegation, prepared for organizing the next Hydrozoan Society Workshop

– Luis

PS: Pictures of all the activities during the workshop can be found on the official facebook page of the Hydrozoan Society, and the entire event was tweeted with the hashtags #9HSworkshop, #HydrozoanSociety and #NorHydro.

 

The 8th International Barcode of Life (IBOL) Conference

Logo by Åshild Stolsmo Viken, Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre

For a week in June, a significant portion of the world’s barcoding community descended on the fair city of Trondheim. 460 participants from 61 countries met up to share their work, exchange ideas, and meet old and new fellow barcoders.

IBOL2019 delegates, photo by Åge Hojem CC-BY-SA-4.0

The University Museum of Bergen was well represented, with 10 scientific contributions being presented.

All the abstracts can be found in this special edition of the journal Genome.

Contributions people from UMB was involved with include:
DNA barcoding reveals cryptic diversity and genetic connectivity in the deep-sea annelids across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge (N. Budaeva et al.)

DNA barcoding assessment of species diversity in marine bristle worms (Annelida), integrating barcoding with traditional morphology-based taxonomy (T. Bakken et al.)

Five years as national research infrastructure: status of the Norwegian Barcode of Life Network (NorBOL) (T. Ekrem et al.)

Molecular study of Chaetozone Malmgren (Annelida, Polychaeta) reveals hidden diversity of a common benthic polychaete (M. Grosse et al.)

DNA barcodes of Nordic Echinodermata (K. Kongshavn et al.)

Ctenophores — native aliens in Norwegian waters (S. Majaneva et al.)

DNA barcoding of Norwegian forest Oribatida — preliminary results reveal several taxonomic problems (A. Seniczak and B. Jordal)

A barcode gap analysis for aquatic biomonitoring in Europe (H. Weigand et al.)

DNA barcoding marine fauna with NorBOL — current status (E. Willassen et al.)

It was a highly enjoyable conference to participate in, both as part of the support structure (“Team Orange”), and as presenter and/or audience.

A subset of “Team Orange”, who contributed to the smooth running of the event (photo: T. Ekrem)

The NorBOL barcode managers together with Paul Hebert, a Canada Research Chair and Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph – and one of the masterminds behind IBOL.

The conference venue did a excellent job keeping us energized and happy with a steady supply of wonderful food and caffeinated beverages – and we were treated to a lovely organ concert in the Nidaros cathedral and a delicious dinner reception at  the Archbishop’s Palace.

Oh, my.

The introduction of BIOSCAN, “the newest phase of a 15-year research program that will transform our understanding of, and integration with global biodiversity” was greeted with enthusiasm – you can read more about this ambitious venture on the IBOL web pages.

It was a excellent conference, and we look  forward to continuing our work on building a validated barcode reference library for species found in Norway through the numerous Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative projects (Artsprosjekt) we have running here at UMB.

-Katrine

Some hydroids, four naturalists, and a small island in the North Sea

NorHydro partner (and hydrozoan expert) Joan J. Soto Àngel from the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology went in a sampling trip to Kinn to collect benthic hydroids. Here is an account of his experience in this trip:

Kinn is a small grassy island on the western Norwegian coast. Today it is a quiet, peaceful place with only a few inhabitants, but in the past it was an important fishing town and the center of the cultural and religious life of the area, as evidenced by its imposing medieval stone church (Kinnakyrkja). The island is also a place of historical relevance for biologists, since it is intimately tied to the life and discoveries of one of the most prominent naturalists of the XIX century, Michael Sars, who worked as a priest in Kinnakyrkja for many years.

Here I am, ready to sample! The island behind is Kinn, easy to recognize thanks to its characteristic cleft silhouette. Picture: Cessa Rauch

The islands in the area face the ocean and are rather exposed, so the vegetation is not particularly tall, but the waters are teeming with life. Picture: Joan J. Soto

The XIX century Norwegian naturalist Michael Sars. Picture from Wikicommons (public domain)

Sars described many species inhabiting the waters around Kinn and also made key observations about their distribution and life cycle. Indeed, he was the first to discover that jellyfish and polyps are in fact different stages of the same animals!

This finding led him to be recognized as an outstanding zoologist of his time. Even now, ca 200 years after, his extensive work is regularly consulted by researchers of many fields. Like me and the other participants of the Artsdatabanken project NorHydro, Sars was fascinated by the group we call Hydrozoa, which is why it was very interesting for our project to join a sampling trip of the University Museum of Bergen in the same waters where he sampled and described many hydroids, hydromedusae and siphonophores.

Because Sars was also interested in other critters of the sea besides hydrozoans, it was only natural to make this sampling trip a joint, collaborative effort. In our case, three marine scientists were involved, each representing a different project: I was in charge of the hydrozoans for NorHydro, while Anne Helene Solberg Tandberg focused on amphipods (NorAmph2) and Cessa Rauch concentrated on sea slugs (Sea Slugs of Southern Norway). But we did not limit ourselves to our favorite animal groups; we also sampled some poychaetes, bryozoans, ascidians and echinoderms for two other projects based at UMB, Hardbunnsfauna and AnDeepNor. In addition, while we sampled extensively the waters around Kinn, we also stopped in the way to the island and back and collected some animals in two other localities in the coast of Sogn og Fjordane. Our efforts paid off and, despite some windy weather, we came home with many specimens to analyze and samples to sort.

Three more contemporary naturalists working for different projects: Joan (left, NorHydro), Cessa (middle, Sea Slugs of Southern Norway), and Anne Helene (right, NorAmph2). Picture: Joan J. Soto

For the hydrozoans, the majority of samples consisted in colonies of hydroids belonging to the families Sertulariidae, Haleciidae and Campanulariidae. This was not surprising as Sertulariidae (sensu lato) is the largest and most diverse family in all Hydrozoa, and their conspicuous colonies are relatively easy to recognize and collect. The haleciids are represented in Norway mainly by species of Halecium, whose colonies are among the largest benthic hydrozoans of the country. As for the campanulariids, particularly those belonging to genera Obelia, Laomedea and Clytia, they are common inhabitants of rocky and mixed bottoms all around the world, and are especially conspicuous when growing on macroalgae such as kelp. To correctly identify some of these specimens, we will look closely at their morphological characteristics and will also employ molecular techniques of DNA analysis. Hopefully this approach will help us understand the diversity of benthic hydroids living around Kinn, and will allow us to determine whether the species that we encountered are the same that Sars studied.

Dynamena pumila was one of the most conspicuous species of hydroid that we collected in this trip. It belongs to the speciose family Sertulariidae.

We were very lucky to have the help of the crew of RV Hans Brattström. This is how the command center of the boat looks like!

You’ll find the results of these and other NorHydro’s analyses here in the blog as we progress, and more updates on the project can be found on the Hydrozoan Science facebook page and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro.

– Joan


References and related literature about Michael Sars

Tandberg AHS, L Martell (2018) En uimodstaaelig lyst til naturens studium. Yearbook of the University Museum of Bergen: 17 – 26.

Sars M (1835) Beskrivelser og Iagttagelser over nogle mærkelige eller nye i Havet ved den Bergenske Kyst levende Dyr af polypernes, acalephernes, radiaternes, annelidernes, og molluskernes classer. Thorstein Hallagers forlag, Bergen.

Windsor MP (1976) Starfish, jellyfish and the order of life. Issues in Nineteenth-Century Science. Yale University Press, New Haven. 228 pp

NorHydro goes back to school

To the Research School in Biosystematics (ForBio), that is!

Last April, NorHydro participated in two events organized by ForBio (who is actually one of the partners of our project): the 2019 Annual ForBio Meeting and the ForBio and MEDUSA course “Zooplankton Communities – Taxonomy and Methods”. Both events were very productive and fun, here is the story:

The 2019 Annual ForBio Meeting was held in Trondheim. Many high-quality talks were delivered during this meeting and NorHydro received useful feedback from students and consolidated scientists from all the Nordic countries. It was particularly important for NorHydro to be present at the annual meeting, because together with ForBio we are planning a course on hydrozoan diversity and phylogeny in 2020, so the meeting in Trondheim was the perfect vehicle to advertise both the course and the activities and expected outcomes of the project.

I did not see any hydroid in Trondheim during the meeting, but the trees in the city center looked suspiciously like colonies of Obelia dichotoma. Pictures: Luis Martell

In addition to NorHydro, the University Museum of Bergen attended the meeting with interesting talks from some of our PhD students and guests, presenting diverse subjects as the phylogeny of the plant genus Potentilla (by Nannie Persson), morphological data of the polychaete family Lumbrineridae (by Polina Borisova), and the diversity of the marine snail genus Scaphander (by Justine Siegwald).

Snapshots of two of the UMB talks during the annual meeting: Luis presenting NorHydro (left) and Justine explaining the mysteries of Scaphander (right). Pictures: Nannie Persson

Later in the month, Aino, Joan and I participated as teachers in the course “Zooplankton Communities – Taxonomy and Methods”, an event organized by ForBio in collaboration with the DIKU-funded project MEDUSA. The course was packed with motivated students and beautiful specimens of gelatinous zooplankton, and we managed to collect some hydromedusae for NorHydro as well. The bloom of hydrozoans is more evident in the water column than anywhere else, since the reproductive season is in close relation with the increasing abundance of food items in the plankton (which in turn follows the spring bloom of microalgae), and our samples confirmed that spring is the perfect hydrozoan hunting season. Beautiful sunsets, friendly chats, and exciting lectures complemented the activities of the zooplankton course, making for a great month in the partnership of ForBio and NorHydro!

We caught some interesting jellies during the course, like these Leuckartiara octona (left), Tima bairdii (middle), and Halopsis ocellata (right). Pictures: Elena Degtyareva

Happy participants of the zooplankton course. From left to right: Raphaelle Descoteaux, Christina Jönander, Ksenia Kosobokova, Elena Temereva, Kyle Mayers, Luis Martell, Elena Degtyareva, Aino Hosia, Sanna Majaneva, Ksenia Smirnova, Ekaterina Nikitenko, Anna Shapkina. Joan Soto (right picture) explained how to keep ctenophores alive during the visit to the Ctenophore Facility of the Sars Centre. Pictures: Nataliya Budaeva, Luis Martell

– Luis