Author Archives: katrine

Workshop week at Espegrend field station

The final week of March was teeming with activity, as no less than three Norwegian Taxonomy Projects (Artsprosjekt) from the Invertebrate Collections arranged a workshop and fieldwork in the University of Bergen’s Marine biological field station in Espegrend.

The projects – Sea Slugs of Southern Norway(SSoSN), Norwegian Hydrozoa (NorHydro) and Invertebrate fauna of marine rocky shallow-water habitats: species mapping and DNA barcoding (Hardbunnfauna) fortunately overlap quite a bit in where and how we find our animals (as in, Cessa’s seaslugs are eating the organisms the rest of us are studying..!), and so it made sense that we collaborated closely during this event.

That meant more hands available to do the work, more knowledge to be shared – and definitely more fun! All projects had invited guests, mostly specialists in certain groups, but also citizen scientists, and our students participating. We stayed at the field station, which has excellent facilities for both lodging and lab work.

Participants on our Artsprojects workshop in March. Left from back: Peter Schuchert, Manuel Malaquias, Bjørn Gulliksen, Jon Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad, Gonzalo Giribet. Middle row from left: Heine Jensen, Luis Martell, Endre Willassen, Eivind Oug, Front row from left: Katrine Kongshavn, Cessa Rauch and Jenny Neuhaus (Photo: Heine Jensen)

The fieldwork was carried out in the Bergen region, and was done in various ways. We had the R/V “Hans Brattstrøm” available for two days, where we were able to use triangular dredges, plankton net, and grab to sample.

Other days we used a small boat from the station to go to the islands close to Espegrend to examine the tide pools and tidal belt. We also went to local marinas and scraped off what was living on the piers, and a brave soul donned her wet suit and went snorkeling, which enabled us to sample very specific points of interest (“take that green thing over there!”).

We are fortunate here in Bergen in that we have a very active local student dive club, SUB-BSI, whose divers kindly kept an eye out for – and even collected – some of our target animals, as well as sharing their photos of the animals in their natural habitat, all of which is amazing for our projects!
We gave short presentations of each of the projects at SUB in the beginning of the week, and invited the divers out to the lab to on the following Thursday to show some of the things we are working on. It was a very nice evening, with a lot of interested people coming out to look at our critters in the lab. We also decimated no less than 14 homemade pizzas during that evening – learning new stuff is hard work!

Guests in the lab (photos K. Kongshavn)

All together, this made it possible for us to get material from an impressive number of sites; 20 stations were sampled, and we are now working on processing the samples.

The locations where we samples during the week (map: K. Kongshavn)

We are  very grateful to all our participants and helpers for making this a productive and fun week, and we’ll make more blog posts detailing what each project found – keep an eye out for those!

You can also keep up with us on the following media:

 NorHydro: Hydrozoan Science on Facebook, and Twitter #NorHydro

@Hardbunnsfauna on Instagram and Twitter

SeaSlugs: on Instagram and in the Facebookgroup

 Cessa, Luis & Katrine

Sea slug hunt in Egersund!

I’m always scared to look at the current date, time flies! It was already two months ago that we went on a blitz fieldwork trip to Egersund with a very special group of people. But nevertheless, good times become good memories (and especially good museum specimens) and it definitely does not get too old for a small blog about it.

From January 17 to January 21 a small group of sea slug enthusiasts consisting of a student, citizen scientists, a collaborator and museum members rented a van and drove 7 hours down to our Southern neighbor town Egersund.

Egersund was not randomly picked as it is the home town to one of Norway’s most productive and dedicated ‘citizen scientist’; Erling Svensen. Author of a number of books and the most well-known and worldwide used ‘Dyreliv I havet – nordeuropeisk marin fauna’ (English Marine fish and invertebrates of Northern Europe), which amateurs and professionals alike use as an extensive research source.

Erling Svensen’s famous book Dyreliv I Havet

With his almost 5000 dives and counting, Erling knows the critters of the North Sea, big and small, on the back of his hand. Already since the beginning of the sea slug project, Erling was helping providing valuable sea slug species, so it was about time to pay him a visit and bring our team over to make Egersund “biologically unsafe” – enough so to end up in the local news!

We made Egersund unsafe enough to have a small news item about it in the ‘Dalane Tidende’, a local newspaper

The group consisted of Manuel, Cessa, citizen scientist Anders Schouw, collaborator from Havard University Juan Moles and master student Jenny Neuhaus

From left to right Erling Svensen, Anders Schouw, Jenny Neuhaus, Cessa Rauch, Juan Moles and Manuel Malaquias. Photo by Erling Svensen

Jenny just started her Masters in Marine Biology at the University of Bergen in the fall of 2018, she will be writing her thesis on the diversity of sea slugs from the Hordaland county and on the systematics of the genus Jorunna (Nudibranchia) in Europe. The results of this work will definitely become a blog entry of its own.

Jorunna tomentosa, Jennies new pet! Photo by Nils Aukan.

Two of the five days of our fieldwork were basically spendt driving up and down from Bergen to Egersund, it left us only with a good 3 days to get an overview of Erling’s backyard sea slug species. Little time as you can imagine. But time was used efficiently, as Anders and Erling are both extremely good sea slug spotters and with help of sea slug specialist Juan and the eager helping hand of Jenny, Manuel and I were able to identify and add 36 species to our museum sea slug database.

Overview of collected specimens in Egersund

In comparison, we registered 41 one species in Drøbak last year by spending almost a week at the field station! No one thought this would be the outcome (not even Erling himself, as he mentioned that he didn’t find that many sea slug species this time of year on earlier surveys). But we were all very happily surprised, and maybe it was not just luck but also the combination of people we had attending this short field trip. With so many good specialists, either professional or amateur, senior or junior, we were able to work extremely efficient and with a clear communal goal. There was little time spend in reinventing the wheel and explaining the work flow, it was a good valuable exercise that will definitely help us with future brief fieldwork trips and how to make the most from short and tight time schedules. Besides it was a very valuable experience for our student Jenny, as she got first-hand experience with what it’s like to see her study specimens alive, how to handle these fragile individuals, how to sort them from other species and how to document them, which is a good thing to know for her thesis and future career

Jenny learning a lot from the master himself. Photo by Erling Svensen

So yes, all in all our Egersund fieldtrip was short but very sweet!

Furthermore
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.

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

-Cessa & Jenny

Project NorHydro: a quest for hydroids in Norwegian waters

One of this year’s new projects at the Invertebrate collections is NorHydro – Norwegian Marine Benthic Hydrozoa.

Both stages in the typical life cycle of a hydroid (polyp and jellyfish) are represented in the logo of the project

Funded by the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre (Artsdatabanken), NorHydro will be dedicated to the study of the ubiquitous (but commonly overlooked) marine hydrozoans of Norway.

Some of the most conspicuous Norwegian hydroids are large colonies somewhat resembling branching trees. Many other animals and algae may grow on these colonies making them their home

Hydrozoans are an ecologically and economically important group of animals. With approximately 3800 described species –and probably many more to be discovered– they are the most diverse group of medusozoan cnidarians in terms of number of species and life cycle strategies. Some hydrozoans live all their lives as jellyfish in the water column (thus they are holoplanktonic), but the vast majority of the species either take the form of polyps permanently connected to the sea-floor (benthic) or are meroplanktonic (i.e. possessing both a benthic polyp and pelagic jellyfish stage). Most of the time, the benthic marine hydrozoans (also called hydroids) go unnoticed by the public, but at times they can grow massively on submerged structures, causing problems for aquaculture, fisheries, and navigation, or producing huge numbers of jellyfish that in turn have a great impact on the local marine environment.

Hydroids come in different sizes and shapes. Colonies living on the same substrate (like these members of Cuspidella, Sertularella, and Grammaria) do not necessarily resemble each other.

To get a better overview of which hydroid species are present in Norwegian waters, NorHydro will sample, record, chart, and DNA-barcode specimens occurring all along the Norwegian coasts. The project will rely on specimens deposited in museum collections as well as on constantly obtaining new live animals that will be identified and documented with photos before they are fixed in ethanol for DNA barcoding of CO1 and 16S sequences. Producing information on the morphology (how does it look) and the DNA sequences (the information within) of Norwegian hydroids is very important, because together these data will allow NorHydro to generate useful tools for the future identification of hydroids from all around the world.

Dredges, grabs, sledges, diving and simply taking them by hand are all valid sampling methods when it comes to marine benthic hydroids. The specimens are then sorted, identified, documented with images, processed for DNA barcoding, and finally incorporated to the museum’s collection for future reference.

Understanding hydroid diversity in Norway is not an easy task, but fortunately NorHydro is not alone in this quest: several partners in Norway and abroad will team up with our project, including NorBOL (the Norwegian Barcode of Life), NTNU University Museum, Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, ForBio Research School in Biosystematics, Natural History Museum of Geneva, University of the Balearic Islands, and the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. NorHydro will also benefit from collaborations with the other four currently ongoing NBIC projects at the Invertebrate Collections of the museum (see an overiview of each of these projects here, in Norwegian), which we are sure will result in a lot of exciting discoveries in the near future.

One important goal of NorHydro is to present marine hydroids to all those not familiar with these amazing creatures. In order to do that, we will regularly write entries here on the blog, as well as posting updates in Facebook and in Twitter with the hashtag #NorHydro. The official info webpage for the project is available here in English, and here in Norwegian, so don’t forget to check it out!

-Luis

Job alert! PhD position in biosystematics at UMB

The following position is currently announced, application deadline is 18th of February 2019

The Department of Natural History, University Museum of Bergen (University of Bergen, Norway) opens a vacancy for a PhD student position within the field of biosystematics. The position is for a fixed-term period of four years of which 25% (one full year) is work duty including teaching assistance and curation of scientific collections at the museum.

The candidate will be working on a research project on taxonomy, systematics, and phylogeny of marine annelids and will focus on the systematic revision of the annelid family Orbiniidae.

Click here for more information and full announcement 

New year, new field work!

2019 will bring a lot of field work for us at the invertebrate collections – not only do we have our usual activity, but we will also have *FIVE* Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative projects (Artsprosjekt) running!

On a rather windy Tuesday in January, four of us – representing four of these projects – set out with R/V “Hans Brattstrøm”.

Four projects on the hunt for samples! Photo: A.H.S. Tandberg

Our main target for the day was actually not connected to any of the NTI-projects – we were hunting for the helmet jellyfish, Periphylla periphylla. We need fresh specimens that can be preserved in a nice way, so that they can be included in the upcoming new exhibits we are making for our freshly renovated museum. We were also collecting other “charismatic megafauna” that would be suitable for the new exhibits.

We have been getting Periphylla in most of our plankton samples since last summer, so when we decided this was a species we would like to show in our exhibits about the Norwegian Seas, we did not think it would be a big problem to get more.

This is a species that eats other plankton, so normally when we get it, we try to get rid of it as fast as possible; we want to keep the rest of the sample! But we should have known. Don’t ever say out loud you want a specific species – even something very common. Last November, we planned to look specifically for Periphylla, and we brought several extra people along just because of that. But not a single specimen came up in the samples – even when we tried where we “always” get them…

Lurefjorden is famous for being a hotspot for Periphylla – so the odds were in our favor! Map: K. Kongshavn

Wise from Novembers overconfident cruise, this time we planned to call to the lab IF we got anything to preserve. The Plankton-sample did not look too good for Periphylla: we only got a juvenile and some very small babies. So we cast the bottom-trawl out (the smallest and cutest trawl any of us have ever used!), and this sample brought us the jackpot! Several adult Periphylla, and a set of medium-sized ones as well! Back in out preparation-lab an entire size-range of the jelly is getting ready for our museum – be sure to look for it when you come visit us!

We of course wanted to maximize the output of our boat time– so in addition to Periphylla-hunting, we sampled for plankton (also to be used for the upcoming ForBio-course in zooplankton), tested the traps that NorAmph2 will be using to collect amphipods from the superfamily Lysianassoidea, checked the trawl catch carefully for nudibranchs (Sea Slugs of Southern Norway, SSSN) and benthic Hydrozoa (NorHydro), and used a triangular dredge to collect samples from shallow hard-bottom substrate that can be part of either SSSN or the upcoming projects NorHydro (“Norwegian marine benthic Hydrozoa”) or “Invertebrate fauna of marine rocky shallow-water habitats; species mapping and DNA barcoding” (Hardbunnsfauna).

The Hardbunnsfauna project was especially looking for Tunicates that we didn’t already have preserved in ethanol, as we want to start barcoding these once the project begins in earnest (last week of March). We also collected bryozoans, some small calcareous sponges, and (surprise, surprise!) polychaetes.

When it comes to hydrozoans, we were lucky to find several colonies of thecate hydroids from families Campanulariidae and Bougainvilliidae that represent some of the first records for NorHydro. Hydroid colonies growing on red and brown algae were particularly common and will provide a nice baseline against which diversity in other localities will be contrasted.

Different hydroid colonies growing on algae and rocks at the bottom of Lurefjorden. Photo: L. Martell

There were not a lot of sea slugs to be found on this day, but we did get a nice little Cuthona and a Onchidoris.

But what about the Amphipod-traps? Scavengers like Lysianassoidea need some time to realize that there is food around, and then they need to get to it. Our traps have one small opening in one end, but the nice smell of decomposing fish also comes out in the other end of the trap. We therefore normally leave traps out at least 24 hours (or even 48), and at this trip we only had the time to leave them for 7 hours. The collected result was therefore minimal – we even got most of the bait back up. However, knowing that we have a design we can deploy and retrieve from the vessel is very good, and we got to test how the technical details work. It was quite dark when we came to retrieve the traps, so we were very happy to see them! All in all not so bad!

We had a good day at sea, and it will be exciting to see some of our animals displayed in the new exhibits!


If you want to know more about our projects, we are all planning on blogging here as we progress. Additionally you can find more on the

-Anne Helene, Cessa, Luis & Katrine 

Door #24: Happy Holidays!

And so we arrive at the final post of the 2018 edition of #InvertebrateCalendar. We have covered so many topics – I am always amazed at what people come up with!

Here is a recap of the posts in the 2018 edition, for previous years you can look behind door #1 here.

Door #1: Last Christmas…
Door #2: A glimpse of Hydrozoan anatomy
Door #3: Mollusc hunting around the world
Door #4: PSA: abstract submission for iBOL Conference is open!
Door #5: DNA-barcoding with BOLD
Door # 6: The key to the question
Door #7: New shipment of tissue samples for barcoding
Door # 8: The DNA-barcode identification machine
Door #9: To catch an Amphipod
Door #10: The Molluscan Forum 2018 in London
Door # 11: Animal rocks and flower animals
Door #12: Meet the chitons!
Door #13: The story you can find in a picture…
Door #14: Annelids from the deep Norwegian waters
Door #15: The eye of the beholder
Door #16: Basic anatomy of the sea slug
Door #17: Sea bunnies of Norway?
Door #18: The hypnotic adventure of the Norwegian jellyfish
Door #19: Photosynthetic vs solar-powered sea slugs
Door #20: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Ocean
Door #21: Barcode taxonomy and the “taxonomic feed-back loop”
Door #22: recommended reading for the holidays
Door #23: A model in the making
Door#24: Happy Holidays!

I hope our readers have enjoyed the calendar, and that you will check back in January for more of our blog posts. We have several new and exciting projects beginning in the new year, as well as the continuation of AnDeepNor and Seaslugs of Southern Norway – not to mention our ever growing invertebrate collections.

Then all that is left is to wish everyone all the best for the holidays!

From all of us to all of you..!

Door #23: A model in the making

The University Museum is being renovated and prepared for a grand new opening within 2019. The building has been put back in shape and looks great (more on that (in Norwegian), and images here), and we are now preparing new exhibits for everyone to enjoy.

As part of producing the new exhibits, we are working together with the excellent model-makers at 10 TONS in Copenhagen to be able to show large scale models of some of our beautiful friends. But how do we make a proper model of a small invertebrate? We want it to be a correct large-scale version of the animal we are portraying, not some half-good almost-look-alike…And if it happens to be strikingly beautiful as well, that is not a bad thing!

A gorgeous model of something too small to be observed properly with the naked eye; the zooxanthellae in the polyp of a coral. Read more here: http://www.10tons.dk/coralpolyp Photo: 10tons.dk

First of all, a 3-D computer model is made. At this stage, the guys at 10 tons work closely with us scientists to make sure that all details are correct – and we use a load of photos, films, SEM-photos and taxonomic drawings to make sure we have all things covered. Sometimes we even send them a specimen that they can scan. The models are passed back and fourth between the model-makers and the scientists, with indications of small corrections pointed out and performed until all parties are happy. You can be sure that the scientists have several minute details they want to change just a tiny little bit more, but we get there in the end…

Work in progress. Image: 10tons.dk

The next step is that the 3-D computer model is printed in the size that is going to be in the exhibits.

The printed out model is coated in a super-thin layer of wax to make it smooth, and then all the tiny details are added. Small notches in the epidermis or tiny plumose seta that have been separately made are added.

For a researcher who describes all the separate seta on the different mouthparts this is an amazing process to observe, and for everybody who later will see the model there can be an assurance that what you will see is actually how the species looks.

But this is not the end! The materials that have been used this far in the process will loose or change their colour when exposed to light. Therefore, a silicon mold (a “negative mold” or a cast of the outside of the model) is made from the finished first model. This mold is used to produce a new positive cast of polyurethane resin – and this is the model that will be shown in the exhibit. This material allows the model makers to add the right colour, translucence and texture to give the right look and feel of the finished product.

Here are a few of the scientific models, many more can be found here

 

Models are not made only of small animals – sometimes they are scaled 1:1, like this minke whale:

Balaenoptera acutorostrata, image 10tons.dk

Or *just a bit* bigger than what we could expect to find our in nature, like this crab (Cancer pagurus)

image: 10tons.dk

Here’s a video of how models are made – there are a few more videos here

We researchers are at the moment eagerly awaiting the models that will come to the University Museum – we have seen the 3-D models, and some of us have seen some photos of the models that are being made. We know that the models will look good, and we are looking forward to sharing them with everybody who comes to see the exhibits.

Now, what species will you be able to see models of, and in which exhibits will they be? That is for us to know now, and you to find out next year!

The holiday-season is a time for secrets to be kept, and this is one of those secrets. Come visit the University Museum when we reopen the building in autumn 2019 to see for yourself!

-Anne Helene

Would you like to know more about the process of making such models? This paper gives details and photos of a project 10 tons did with a paleontologist from the university of Lund in Sweden: Eriksson ME, Horn E (2017) Agnostus pisiformis – a half a billion-year old pea-shaped enigma. Earth-Science Reviews 173, 65-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.08.004

Door #22: recommended reading for the holidays

Today we’re offering you an early Christmas gift; the entire University Museum of Bergen 2018 yearbook is available online!

Provided that you read Norwegian, it offers an array of varied and entertaining tales of fieldwork in the context of the university Museum

You can find it here:

Årbok for Universitetsmuseet i Bergen 2018

The people of the Invertebrate Collections have written three of the papers in this year’s edition, with tales of fieldwork in Zanzibar, a journey in the footsteps of renowned taxonomist Michael Sars, and the story of the different methods we use to collect our animals in the field. We hope you will enjoy them!

Door #19: Photosynthetic vs solar-powered sea slugs

I think we can all agree that sea slugs are amazing creatures. Some species contain toxins that are useful for cancer research and others are photosynthetic! There are a few species of sea slugs that have the ability to photosynthesize. But beware; the ability for them to do the thing that plants and algae are good at (photosynthesis), doesn’t always mean they are solar-powered. And I will explain you in the next few lines what I mean with that.

There are two families of sea slugs known to have a few species within them that can photosynthesize; it’s within the family of Facelinidae and the family of Sacoglossa.

Within the family of Facelinidae we have the genus Phyllodesmium; and all species in this genus are considered solar-powered, meaning that they get a part of their daily energy intake via photosynthesis. At the moment the theory goes that they are able to do so as they contain photosynthetic zooxanthella stolen from their feeding source (soft corals), and they continue to ‘farm’ these zooxanthellae in their own bodies. The species Phyllodesmium longicirrum masters this trade and is best known as the solar-powered Phyllodesmium

Solar-powered Phyllodesmium longicirrum by Jason R. Marks

The other family does things quite differently but nevertheless as impressive; those are the Sacoglossa.

A few representatives of the photosynthetic sea slugs within the Sacoglossa

Unlike Phyllodesmium, they don’t farm zooxanthella but they steal the photosynthetic cell organelles (chloroplasts or plastids) from the algae they feed on; also known as kleptoplasty (Kleptes (κλέπτης) Greek for thief). Approximately 140 years ago these sea slugs were first described by de Negri and de Negri, who discovered that these sea slugs were green colored due to foreign ‘bodies’ that were reminiscent to those known from plants. It took at least another 100 years before the ‘granule bodies’ were identified to be chloroplasts from the algae the slugs feed on. Sacoglossa are also known as sap-sucking sea slugs because of the way they eat their algae; at first, the sea slugs pinch a whole in the algae wall with their special teeth, called the radula. Then they suck out the cytosolic content of the algae (hence the name sap sucking sea slugs). Finally, the cytosol content is being digested in the digestive tract that perforates the entire body and within some species the chloroplasts are being sequestered and continue to photosynthesize in the animal’s digestive cells

Sap-sucking slug sequestering chloroplasts from the algae it feeds on (figure from Rauch et al. 2015)

Although the sea slugs are famous for their ability of stealing chloroplasts, they only represent a minority within the Sacoglossa. In fact, only 6 out of 300 described species, can keep the chloroplasts fully functional for long term, or long-term retention species; that is the chloroplasts are photosynthetic active for longer than 21 days after sequestration. The gross majority are either short term retention species (with functional chloroplasts up to 14 days or more) or cannot retain the chloroplasts at all (called non-retention species). This means that the chloroplasts are immediately being digested like the rest of the algae content.

So why are Sacoglossa photosynthetic but not solar powered like Phyllodesmium? Well this is because numerous studies observed how the sea slugs died as soon as they were being starved (meaning they couldn’t eat their algae food anymore) even though they had photosynthetic active chloroplasts in their cells. Besides, based on CO2 fixating measurements, it turned out that 99% of the sea slug has to live from normal ingested food, like all other animals do. This could very well explain why only 6 out of the 300 described species are able to sequester chloroplasts long-term, and apparently for reasons other than carbon fixation!

The take home message is that this case of photosynthetic and solar-powered sea slugs is a great example of how good science is about resisting the pull of easy conclusions. When something seems right at first, it should still be testified!

Furthermore
Interested in photosynthetic sea slugs? You can read more in the following papers that are also used as source for this blog:

  1. A sea slug’s guide to plastid symbiosis (2015) J De Vries, C Rauch, G Christa, SB Gould, Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 83 (4)
  2. Why it is time to look beyond algal genes in photosynthetic slugs (2015) C Rauch, J Vries, S Rommel, LE Rose, C Woehle, G Christa, EM Laetz (…), Genome biology and evolution 7 (9), 2602-2607
  3. On being the right size as an animal with plastids (2017) C Rauch, P Jahns, AGM Tielens, SB Gould, WF Martin, Frontiers in plant science 8, 1402
  4. Mitochondrial Genome Assemblies of Elysia timidaand Elysia cornigera and the Response of Mitochondrion-Associated Metabolism during Starvation (2017) C Rauch, G Christa, J de Vries, C Woehle, SB Gould, Genome biology and evolution 9 (7), 1873-1879
  5. The ability to incorporate functional plastids by the sea slug Elysia viridisis governed by its food source (2018) C Rauch, AGM Tielens, J Serôdio, SB Gould, G Christa, Marine Biology 165 (5), 82

Would you like to see pictures of sea slugs that you can find in 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.

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

Door #18: The hypnotic adventure of the Norwegian jellyfish

The end of the year is always a crazy time full with work deadlines and holiday planning, but if one can find a few minutes in between last-minute shopping and gift-wrapping, the last days of December can also offer the opportunity to reflect on past and current experiences and what we have learned from them. It is also a special time for closure, so it feels natural that it coincides this year with the end of HYPNO, one of the projects of the Invertebrate collections funded by the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative.

For the last three years, project HYPNO (Hydrozoan pelagic diversity in Norway) has been documenting and DNA-barcoding the diversity of hydromedusae and siphonophores in Norwegian waters. We have learned a lot about the distribution of these animals in the process, especially since we have come face to face (or rather face to tentacle) with more than 1100 specimens from all parts of the country.

Representative species of the groups within Hydrozoa that were the object of study of HYPNO (from left to right and top to bottom): Amphinema rugosum (Anthoathecata), Mitrocomella polydiademata (Leptothecata), Lensia conoidea (Siphonophorae Calycophorae), Agalma elegans (Siphonophorae Physonectae), Botrynema ellinorae (Trachymedusae), Bathykorus bouilloni (Narcomedusae). Pictures: Luis Martell and Aino Hosia.

Telling all these organisms apart was not always an easy task, but thanks to a combination of traditional taxonomy and genetic methods we have been able to identify more than 120 species, including several new records for Norway and a couple of species that had gone unnoticed to the world until today. The project was very successful in getting useful DNA sequences for the majority of these species, which will facilitate the identification of hydrozoans in the future, and that will be available for everybody to use through the online platform of the Barcoding of Life initiative. All the records gathered during the project will also be available to the public (through the interactive maps of Artskart) and a collection of specimens will be stored at the University Museum of Bergen as a reference for anyone interested.

A nice overview of some of the results of HYPNO as displayed in the webpage of BOLD systems.

Additionally, keep an eye open for HYPNO’s most striking results that can be found in several scientific articles (published and in various stages of preparation), and for the project’s last updates in social media.

Without a doubt, HYPNO owes much of its success to the combined efforts of all the individuals and institutions that have collaborated in the project in one stage or another. NorBOL, GooseAlien, NorAmph, and Arts- og naturtypekartlegging av Sognefjorden are only some of the projects with which HYPNO has shared samples, experiences, and field trips. Collecting the animals and curating the specimens and data would not have been possible without the help of the crew working in the research vessels that hosted us and the technical staff at the DNA lab and the invertebrate collections of the museum.

HYPNO included samples from all over Norway, but we particularly enjoyed our regular sampling trips in the amazing Western Norwegian coast. Pictures: Luis Martell, Joan J. Soto Àngel.

Many records for the project came from friends and colleagues working in other institutions and universities in Norway and abroad, all of whom were eager to share their knowledge and time with us in this hypnotic adventure of Norwegian jellyfish.

We had always a great time jelly-hunting in the sea! Pictures: Luis Martell, Joan J. Soto Àngel, Anne-Helene S. Tandberg.

HYPNO may now be coming to an end, but this doesn’t mean that our work on Norwegian hydrozoans is finished. On the contrary, the Invertebrate Collections have been granted a new project starting next year and focusing again on these fascinating animals. We hope that the new project NORHYDRO will be as rewarding as HYPNO, and we know it will be at least as fun: time flies by so quickly when jellyfish and good friends are involved!

-Luis Martell and Aino Hosia

 

Some suggested reading related to the project
Schuchert P, Hosia A, and Leclere L. 2017. Identification of the polyp stage of three leptomedusa species using DNA barcoding.

Martell L, Tandberg AHS, and Hosia A. 2018. The illusion of rarity in an epibenthic jellyfish: facts and artefacts in the distribution of Tesserogastria musculosa (Hydrozoa, Ptychogastriidae). Helgoland Marine Research 72(1):12.