Author Archives: katrine

Door # 6: The key to the question

We often say that without knowing the species you examine, you really can’t know a lot about whatever it is you are examining. But how do you get from knowing for example “this is an amphipod” to knowing “this is Amphilochoides serratipes”?

Three different Amphilochidae from Iceland

Most researchers would usually stop at the “this is an amphipod”-stage, and many specialists  would call it a day at “this amphipod belongs to the familily Amphilochidae”. but then there are the one or two researchers who have gone on to specialise in this family (I think there are three of us in the world at the moment).

But finally – those days are over!
As a special gift on this Nicholaus-day when all German colleagues get a special gift from St Nicholaus (who is Father Christmas) we present to all of you – regardless of nationality or faith:

The interactive and illustrated key to the NorthEast Atlantic species of Amphilochidae

The key is a product of a collaboration between the NorAmph-project and the German-lead IceAGE project that examines benthic animals around Iceland, and the technical production and web-hosting of the key is from the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (Artsprosjekt) (who – we have to say – also have financed the NorAmph-project!) Hurrah for a great collaboration!

Figure 14 from Tandberg et al

You might still wonder what an Amphilochid amphipod is?

The family Amphilochidae are amphipods that are quite small (1-6mm in length) and quite stout. They are not extremely good swimmers, though much of that can be from their small size – and from their short appendages. They can be found all over the world, and are common at many depths in our cold waters. Even though they are small and easily overlooked, they sometimes occur in relatively large numbers, and can contribute significantly to both the biomass and diversity of a sample. They have been found on hydrothermal vents at the southern part of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, and some have been found as loose associates of other invertebrates.

Also – they are quite cute, don’t you think?  Good luck with the identification!

-Anne Helene

Literature:

Brix S et. al. 2018. Amphipod family distributions around Iceland. ZooKeys 731: 1-53. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.731.19854

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

Door #4: PSA: abstract submission for iBOL Conference is open!

For door #4 we are helping spread word about the 8th International Barcode of Life Conference, which will take place in Trondheim, Norway on June 17-20th next year.

Abstract submissions are open until January 15th 2019, so now is the time to start thinking (if you haven’t already).

The previous IBOL conference – the one in Kruger National Park, South Africa – was not just in an amazing location (which it undoubtedly was!), but covered a wide array of interesting topics and wonderful talks, and IBOL2019 is set to follow suit!

Check out the planned session themes and outstanding plenary speakers here.

The Norwegian participants at IBOL2017 – enthusiastic about launching Trondheim as the host for IBOL2019! Photo: Knut A. Hjelt

The University Museum in Bergen is one of the four University Museums that are coordinating the Norwegian Barcode of Life (NorBOL) project, and we will be presenting some of our findings on marine invertebrates at the conference  – hope to see you there!

You can find all the relevant information on the conference web page: http://dnabarcodes2019.org/

Door #3: Mollusc hunting around the world

The study of molluscs (malacology) has a long tradition in Norway. Despite the nearly 50,000 species dwelling in the world oceans and seas, a number only barely supersede by the arthropods, new species continue to be discovered and our understanding of the relationships and systematics of molluscs to change.

At the Natural History Museum of Bergen, the study of molluscs is focal, and research is carried out on various aspects of their diversity, morphology, ecology, systematics, evolution, and biogeography, using state of the art methods like DNA barcoding, molecular phylogenetics, and electron microscopy. Understanding the patterns and processes that drive present diversity in the oceans is one of our main goals and our research foci are framed within several “big questions”: How many and how can we differentiate between species? How do species originate in the oceans? Why some regions in the oceans are more diverse than others? Are mechanisms responsible for the patterns of diversity in the deep-sea the same as in shallow ecosystems?

Our quest for answers necessitate the continuous collection of new specimens and the exploration of remote geographies. We conduct regular fieldwork around the world including Norway, through numerous projects and partnerships.

Here are some snapshots from recent fieldwork from Manuel & team:

Working during October 2017 together with Professor João Macuio from the University Lurio (Pemba, Mozambique) in Nangata Bay (Nuarro, Mozambique) on a survey of the sea slug diversity inhabiting this pristine coral reef area and on an assessment of the structure and conservation status of the population of the threatened giant clam species (Tridacna maxima). Left image: Manuel Malaquias and João Macuio photographing sea slugs at the Nuarro Research Center.

João Macuio measuring underwater the total length of a specimen of the giant clam Tridacna maxima

Working in remote places requires often some capacity to improvise and during a fieldtrip to Taiwan while in the Penghu islands we had to convince the manager of our hostel to let us set up a field-lab in the garage among his gear and pet-cage!

Manuel and Trond Oskars, PhD candidate at the Museum, searching for molluscs during May 2017 at mangrove systems near the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

In the Penghu islands we had the opportunity to work in the field together with students from the National Penghu University of Science and Technology, here depicted in the right image helping collecting sea slugs along a water stream lined by few mangrove bushes.

After a three weeks fieldtrip to Vamizi island in the Quirimbas archipelago, north of Mozambique during May 2015, we were finally brought to shore at Palma village near the border with Tanzania where we had to do some final sorting and organization of samples under the curious eyes of the local villagers (Manuel Malaquias and Yara Tibiriça from the Zavora Marine Lab in Mozambique).

Fieldwork during May 2018 in the Oslo fjord as part of the project “Sea slugs of southern Norway” funded by Artsdatabanken. Left image: part of the team working through the catch of the day at the Tolboden Course Center in Drøbak, University of Oslo (left to right: Cessa Rauch, Manuel Malaquias, Torkild Bakken, Anders Schouw)

You can read more about some of these expeditions by exploring the posts found here (workshops) and here (fieldwork).

Manuel

Door #2: A glimpse of Hydrozoan anatomy

Hydroids and hydromedusae are abundant and widespread, but they can be difficult to identify, in part due to the overwhelming amount of terminology used to describe their polyps, colonies and medusae. The diversity of shapes and life cycle strategies in Hydrozoa is in fact so high that it is almost impossible to find a single set of descriptive terms for all species, and different glossaries have been developed for closely related families, sometimes genera, and also for the different stages in the life cycle of the same organism. To further complicate things, the terminology we use for the characterization of hydrozoan morphology has been adapted in many cases from other fields of science (like botany and geometry), and some of the words ended up with very different meanings depending of the organism we are looking at.

But if you are interested in these fascinating creatures, fear not! We at the invertebrate collections have thought about giving you a little visual aid in the form of four plates including some of the basic structures of hydroids and hydromedusa (courtesy of artsprosjekt HYPNO and upcoming artsprosjekt NORHYDRO).

Figure 1: Thecate polyps, like the ones of Aglaophenia harpago, are protected by rigid structures called “thecae” into which the polyp can retract. In many species they live all together forming colonies. Credit: Joan J. Soto Àngel and L. Martell.

Figure 2: Unlike their “protected” relatives, athecate polyps (e.g. those of Pennaria disticha) lack the skeletal protection of the theca, but can also form large colonies with many polyps. Credit: Joan J. Soto Àngel and L. Martell.

Figure 3: The hydromedusae produced by thecate polyps are called leptomedusae, and can be recognized by the development of gonads in the radial canals (among other characteristics). From left to right and top to bottom in the picture are three species present in Norwegian waters: Tiaropsis multicirrata, Modeeria rotunda, and Tima bairdii. Credit: L. Martell and A. Hosia, HYPNO project.

Figure 4: Anthomedusae (hydromedusae produced by athecate polyps) usually have the gonads developed in the manubrium. From left to right and top to bottom in the picture are Leuckartiara octona, Rathkea octopunctata, and Sarsia tubulosa. Credit: L. Martell and A. Hosia, HYPNO project.

Hopefully these images can be used as a starting point for the uninitiated, and why not? perhaps also as a source of inspiration for cool marine-related presents for the season!

-Luis Martell and Joan J. Soto Àngel

Door #1: Last Christmas…

The cushioned sea star, Porania pulvillus, has been recruited to help advertise our little advent enterprise. Click for bigger image!

Last Christmas* we did in fact not make an Invertebrate Advent Calendar, as half the people of the collections were off in South Africa attending the IBOL (International Barcode of Life) conference. You can read more about what we were up to there in this blog post (which is liberally peppered with photos of local vertebrates): The 7th International Barcode of Life (IBOL) conference

However, the year before, and the year before that again, we did hold our own countdown for the 24 first days of December – just like most kids do here in Norway.

We will try to do the same this year, so make sure to check back often for posts on the weird and wonderful critters that live in the sea!

The 2015 edition can be found here, and cover the following topics:

Door #1: A day at sea
Door #2: The Leaf Sheep Sea Slug
Door #3: Prepare to be HYPNOtized
Door #4: A cushioned star
Door #5: A (so far) undescribed species of bristle worm
Door #6: Associated Amphipods
Door #7: Shrimp and salad
Door #8: One jar –> many, many vials
Door #9: Delving into the DNA
Door #10: Old Stoneface
Door #11: Just a white blob?
Door #12: Plankton sampling with a vertebrate view!
Door #13: Time for rejuvenation
Door #14: A world of colour and slime
Door #15: Guest researchers: Ivan
Door #16: First molecular-based phylogeny of onuphid bristle worms
Door #17: A marriage of art and science
Door #18: A photosynthetic animal
Door #19: The amphipods with the pointed hoods
Door #20: How many undescribed bristle worms live in Australian waters?
Door #21: A Norwegian oddity
Door #22: The Heart of the Museum
Door #23: Of MAREANO and the Museum
Door #24: Happy Holidays!

For 2016, this is what we came up with:

Door #1 Gammarus wilkitzkii – closer than Santa to the North Pole?
Door #2: The head of the Medusa
Door #3: a week in the field
Door #4: A spindly Sunday
Door #5: A visit from Mario
Door # 6: Stuffed Syllid
Door # 7: Always on my mind…?
Door #8: the ups and downs of a marine werewolf?
Door #9: Research stay of Juan Moles
Door #10: Siphonophores
Door #11 Invertebrately inspired art?
Door #12: All aboard the jelly cruise!
Door #13: Lucia – with a ray of enlightenment?
Door #14: Where the sun doesn’t shine. Lucifer, luciferin and luciferase
Door #15 Twinkle, twinkle, little animal?
Door #16: Chaetoderma nitidulum- a spiny, shiny mollusc
Door #17: New master student
Door # 18: MSc completed
Door #19: Going back to the roots
Door #20: Pretty Phyllodocidae
Door # 21: A tale of three fading buck-goats
Door #22 A jolly, happy family?
Door #23: How far away can a quill worm get?
Door #24: Happy Holidays!

We hope you will enjoy our little tidbits of invertebrate collections related information!

-Katrine

*you are so very welcome to the ear worm – maybe now I can get rid of it!

JESS! It’s World Jellyfish Day!

November 3 is World Jellyfish Day, and it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the gelatinous creatures of the world by sharing experiences and plans with friends and colleagues. We at the Invertebrate Collections take every chance to share our love for jellies, which is why Aino and I were particularly happy to participate in the Jellyfish Research in Svalbard (JESS)-Workshop held last week in Tromsø (22-23 October).

Some examples of Arctic jellies. From left to right, in the top row: Catablema multicirratum, Beroe abyssicola, Botrynema ellinorae, Euphysa flammea; bottom row: Dimophyes arctica, Sminthea arctica, Bathykorus bouilloni, Aglantha digitale. Photos: HYPNO

Loved or hated, jellyfish are the kind of animals that either mesmerize beachgoers or make them go straight out of the water. Fortunately, all participants at the JESS Workshop belonged to the first category of people, and we had a very nice and productive meeting discussing methods, state-of-the-art, challenges, and opportunities of working with jellyfish in Arctic waters.

Happy jellyfish hunters in Tromsø

The workshop covered sessions on sampling, data management, ecology, and diversity, including an interesting discussion on how to obtain more (and better quality) jellyfish data from current plankton monitoring protocols. It was an international meeting (20 participants from more than 10 different countries) neatly organized by the University of Tromsø, but it still felt a lot like a bunch of friends getting together to talk about one fascinating subject, which is something I really enjoyed.

Sampling protocols and data curation were some of the most discussed topics during the JESS Workshop. Photos: Joan J. Soto Àngel

All that talking about feeding and predation made us hungry!

While the JESS Workshop was not exactly held on November 3rd, the spirit of commemoration of our gelatinous neighbors was present during the entire event. Celebrating World Jellyfish Day may be a rather recent activity (I could not find any reference of the first time this date was observed, but most likely it only started a couple of years ago), but being fascinated by the movement, color and shapes of jellyfish is certainly not a new thing. There has always been a lot of mystery surrounding the gelatinous inhabitants of the sea, so in a way it was only natural for the origin of the date dedicated to jellyfish to be as much of an enigma as the animals themselves. Mysterious or not, don’t miss the chance to celebrate your local jellies today!

Acknowledgements
Aino Hosia and Sanna Majaneva did a superb job organizing the JESS Workshop and making us feel at home in Tromsø: thank you so much for that! Many thanks as well to all the participants and speakers for the motivating talks and discussions.

Further reading
What could be better than adding some jelly-related reading to the celebration of World Jellyfish Day? I personally love the classics, so I would always recommend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” for a case of a peculiar encounter with the beautiful Cyanea capillata. Enjoy!

– Luis

NorBOL and BOLDsystems course Trondheim 17th-19th of October

Travelogue from Cessa Rauch

Today the weekly event of MolluscMonday and the annual SeaSlugDay (29th of October) coincide!Bunch of sea slugs to celebrate sea slug day, collected in Askøy

What better way to celebrate it with another blog! Much has happened again since the last blog in August, in which we went on fieldwork in Askøy by joining the ladies of the jentedykketreff to find sea slug species in the Bergen area. We officially started to barcode our first specimens, got two new master students that will also work on the project by looking into a variety of topics (diversity of sea slugs in Hordaland, population genetics of Polycera quadrilineata and taxonomy of the genus Eubranchus).

In this blog I will share with you how we are uploading our slugs to the World Wide Web with help of the Barcode of Life data system and how the Norwegian Barcode of Life is helping us getting this done by organizing an informative course in Trondheim.

First step in trying to decode our precious species
The sea slugs of Southern Norway project is a two-year project funded by Artsdatabanken (The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative) with the aim of mapping the biodiversity of sea slugs along the Southern part of the Norwegian coast

Sea slugs of Southern Norway being eaten by Doris pseudoargus

The focal area stretches from Bergen, Hordaland, all the way down to the Swedish border. In May, July and August of this year the project successfully completed its first fieldwork trips with an additional of 500 new registered museum specimens that cover roughly 90 sea slug species. The species names are attributed based on morphological characteristics, but several species exhibit amazing colour polymorphism, possibly hiding cryptic diversity.

Moreover, we cannot discard the possible occurrence of alien species with similar morphotypes to the native fauna. Therefore, we will need to DNA barcode our specimens to either confirm or change the species names credited to our collected specimens. Besides it will give us an overview for the relatedness of the sea slugs to one another and unravel maybe new species!

In order to successfully sequence 500+ specimen the project collaborates with the Norwegian Barcode of Life project (NorBOL). NorBOL is a network of Norwegian biodiversity institutions and individual scientists that coordinates the establishment of a library of DNA sequences (barcodes) of the fauna and flora of Norway. These barcodes)will be submitted to the open access database BOLD (Barcode of Life Data System), as part of the global Barcode of Life initiative and the International Barcode of Life project (iBOL).

Barcode of Life Data System course
Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) is a globally orientated online workbench and database that supports the assembly and use of DNA barcode data, and is open access to the scientific community and public. At the moment it holds a record of 6235000 barcodes; 194000 of those are animal species, 67000 plant species and 21000 fungi and other species. The BOLD system is an amazing tool to work with for those interested in biodiversity research. Initially it can be a little overwhelming to fill in all available data into Excel file after Excel file, as this is mandatory and needs to be uploaded first to the system before any sequencing can be done. Especially for those who have many specimens to work with. But afterwards the reward is very fulfilling as you, in an instant, can see distribution maps, trees and images of all the specimens uploaded.

Distribution map from Google earth with collected sea slugs from the Oslo area

Image library of all the collected sea slugs

It is the perfect tool for digitizing, analysing, storing and accessing your genetic and image library data from everywhere anytime. BOLD system standards for uploading actual specimen data are pretty high, the quality of what you can find on the platform is good, but in order to keep these standards great, NorBOL organizes special multi day courses for users in order to guide them through all the steps and features of the BOLD system. This year the course was organized by the NorBOL National coordinator NTNU in Trondheim.

It would take three full days of getting together with fellow participants and going through all the steps necessary in order to start a successful project in the BOLD platform. This year it took place from 17th till 19th of October and as such, me, Anna and Per travelled that Wednesday the 17th very early in the morning to Trondheim. The course was well attended with participants traveling from all over Norway and even from its neighbouring country Sweden. The first day consisted mainly of introduction talks and familiarizing ourselves with the many new abbreviations; NorBOL, BOLD, iBOL (et cetera).

It was a nice experience to meet and talk to other biologists working on such interesting topics, varying from flies, mites, sponges, jellyfish, worms, variety of plants, etc. Everything was taken care off, we could check in to our hotels and in the evening, we had a dinner together with the organizers and participants. The next two course days we were asked to work with our own brought specimens. The days consisted of registering the specimens, filling in as much data per specimens as possible. After finishing and uploading the first datasets, it was time to make pictures of every species, before sampling them for DNA barcoding tissue. Almost all participants brought a 96 wells plate worth of specimens so you can imagine the work that was put into getting everything finished in such a short amount of time.

Sea slug tissue in a 96 well plate ready to be shipped for barcoding

The course was an excellent way to get used to the different steps necessary in order to make the submission process a success. And it was very helpful that at any given moment we could ask the course organizers for advice during the preparations of the datasets and the submission.

All the participants were very excited about the course and happy they attended, it was nice meeting new people and as for someone that moved to Norway, a good opportunity to finally also see Trondheim, with its amazing large Cathedral, a real eyecatcher

 

 

Sea slug goals
The goal for the sea slugs of Southern Norway project is to barcode all, or at least as much as possible, collected specimen, in order to attribute species names to them, expose cryptic species, maybe find new species and look out for invasive and or alien species. Thanks to this course the first 95 species will be barcoded soon and be added to the image library that we already managed to set up (Image 8. Screenshot of the project page of sea slugs of Southern Norway in the BOLD system workbench).

Screenshot of the project page of sea slugs of Southern Norway in the BOLD system workbench

We are very much looking forward for the first results to be accessible and to analyse the data; keep an eye on the invertebrate blogs because for sure the follow up of this story is going to be pretty exciting.

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Aina Mærk Aspaas for the coordination of the course, Katrine Kongshavn to help out with my first introduction to NorBOL and the BOLD system workbench and Anna Beata Seniczak and Per Djursvoll for being great colleagues during the course and lovely companions in discovering Trondheim together as real Bergen tourists!

 

Furthermore
Sea slugs of Southern Norway recently got its own Instagram account! Perfect for on the go if you would like to quickly check some species or just want to look at pretty pictures; click here, and don’t forget to follow us.

Curious about what we have been doing so far,  read about it in our blogs on the invertebrate website;
First fieldwork blog Drøbak may 2018;
Second fieldwork blog Haugesund July 2018;
Third fieldwork trip august 2018

Become a member of the sea slugs of southern Norway facebook group, stay updated and join the discussion; https://www.facebook.com/groups/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/

Why is it SeaSlugDay today? Read more about that here!  (link goes to Echinoblog)

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

-Cessa

Course on “Preparation, curation, and databasing of marine biodiversity collections” at University Lurio, Pemba, Mozambique (27th August–7th September 2018)

Manuel shares his recent experience of teaching at University Lurio in Mozambique

My collaboration with the University Lurio (UniLurio) in northern Mozambique started back in 2015 when together we organized a fieldtrip to Vamizi island in the Quirimbas archipelago off the northern coast of Mozambique.

Since then, I had the opportunity to participate in several academic activities; I lectured, have reviewed and evaluated theses for the “licenciatura” degree, and most rewarding I have supervised two master students (2015/17) that are now professors at UniLurio. In 2017 I had the pleasure to integrate a mission organized by the Norwegian Embassy in Mozambique to establish a collaborative programme between UniLurio and Norway and later in the same year I was awarded a “Visiting Scholarship” by the International Council for Science, Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) to teach a course about biological collections at UniLurio.

The tropical location of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean results in an impressively rich biological diversity which is nevertheless extremely vulnerable to climate change and warming of ocean waters.

Aspect of part of the UniLurio wet spider collection and dry collection of corals

Therefore, better knowledge of biodiversity and long-term preservation of biological collections are important tools to better understand shifts in faunal and flora composition and the arrival of new species supporting the definition of mitigation and conservation strategies.

The University Lurio has a “Collections Room” with specimens representing the local fauna and flora with marine invertebrates, reptiles, fish, vascular plants, etc., and has a special focus on the study of biodiversity, but simultaneously acknowledges the need to reinforce its infrastructure and build up capacities to develop and manage its collections.

 

This was the framework that led us to decide to organize the course and apply together for funding with SCOR. Later in 2017 the good news arrived, the funding was approved, and so, suddenly I had an entire new course to put together!

All my entire career from the time I undertook my “licenciatura” thesis back in 1994 all the way up to my PhD, postdocs, until the moment I got my first permanent job (the one I still hold) has been always inside natural history museums (Europe, US, Australia, etc.) and consequently working with biological collections has become part of my daily routines for quite a while! And yes, during these more than 20 years I have seen quite a bit and learn a few things, but suddenly for the first time I had to put together this knowledge in a way that it could be presented and shared with others. It turned out to be quite a challenge…, but definitely a rewarding one!

Course structure

During a lecture on curatorial procedures

Photoshoot before setting off for sampling in a local Pemba tidal flat

At UniLurio the course was attended by 15 participants (8 students and 7 professors / technical staff). It was organized in four lectures (2h each), two sampling trips (ca. 4h each) to the tidal zone to collect marine invertebrates (molluscs, echinoderms, crustaceans, etc.), and three laboratory sessions (4h each) to identify the samples and go through all the necessary curatorial steps to ensure proper preservation for long-term storage of the collection (relaxation, fixation, preservation, DNA samples, registration, labeling).

Registering and labelling the lots

All sample lots generated by the students throughout the course were registered in the UniLurio databasing system following DarwinCore standards and at the end integrated in the biological collections.

Bringing the new curated samples to the UniLurio collection room

We finished the course with a very participated open session where it was discussed how could the new acquired competences benefit the development of the local infrastructure bearing in mind the local reality and constrains. A very interesting exercise confronting ideal scenarios with sometimes the harsh and challenging reality of a country with limited infrastructure capacities and in economical strain. At last we had a simple but cozy ceremony attended by the Director of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, UniLurio where certificates of attendance of the course were handed over to the students.

Certification ceremony with awarding of course diplomas.

The course was sponsored by the International Council for Science, Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the University Lurio, Mozambique and the University of Bergen, Norway

-Manuel

Teaching DNA barcoding in Siberia

Endre, Katrine, Nataliya and Tom have recently been on a journey far removed from the ocean – although the location did hold a lot of fresh water…!

It really does look and feel a lot like an ocean…

We have – together with Torbjørn Ekrem from the NTNU University Museum – been teaching DNA barcoding at the Russian-Norwegian course “Data mobilization skills: training on mobilizing biodiversity data using GBIF and BOLD tools”, which was held in Naratey on the western shore of Lake Baikal September 14-20, 2018!

The course consisted of two modules focusing on GBIF and BOLD tools. The GBIF part was taught by Dag Endresen from UiO, Laura Russell and Dmitry Schigel from the GBIF Secretariat.

It included both online preparatory work for the students and (mainly) onsite components. The online portion consisted of tasks that the students completed on GBIF’s eLearning portal.

The onsite work was comprised of 20 different sessions of lectures and practical exercises, the latter with a significant component of group work.

16 students from Norwegian and Russian intuitions participated, and did a wonderful job of assimilating a lot of information in a short amount of time, and turning it into practical skills.

The two main platforms we used were GBIF and BOLD – two large depositories for different kinds of biodiversity data. The GBIF-part of the course focused on the technical aspects of data mobilization, such as data capture, and management and online publishing of biodiversity data in order to increase the amount, richness and quality of data published through the GBIF network.

Team GBIF getting set up Photo: N. Ivanova

BOLD; Barcode of Life Data Systems

The barcoding part was aimed at both users and providers of barcoding data, and began with an introduction to the barcoding concept, and a case study of integrating data from BOLD and GBIF. This was followed by a session on the use of BOLD: creating projects and datasets, and the uploading of data, images, sequences and trace files. The students got to try all of this for themselves, and we were impressed by how well they worked together to find solutions and teach each other valuable tricks to solve the challenges.

Following the lessons on how to get sequence data into the database, we covered basics of sequence analysis, and gave an introduction to the free software MEGA X which can be used for sequence alignment, translation and phylogeny.

Working in MEGA Photo: k. Kongshavn

This was again followed by a practical session in MEGA on a given data set. We also had a session presenting the analytical tools in BOLD, with a practical session exploring a dataset from NTNU. Our lessons were very well received by the students, with an average score of 4.8 out of a possible 5 on the evaluations – nice feedback for the teachers!

Students and teachers gathered in the Siberian sun
Photo: Dmitry Schigel, CC-BY-SA

The final task for the students was to present their presentations for “The Baikal Biodiversity Challenge”, which they were presented with on the first day of the course.

The Baikal Biodiversity Challenge

The challenge was to develop a biodiversity inventory project to map and analyze the diversity of a selected animal group. To do so they would need to use available information in BOLD, GBIF and other sources to examine what was known and identify information that was missing, and come up with suggestions on how it could be solved. It was not the easiest of tasks, however all four groups gave excellent presentations.

 

Group selfie wearing the NorBOL buff scarves – #mydnabarcode! Photo by Laura Russell, CC-BY-SA

The course was arranged as collaboration between the University of Bergen, the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry Russian Academy of Sciences (SIPPB SB RAS), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat. NorBOL (Norwegian Barcode of Life) supplied the teachers for the barcoding part of the programme, namely Endre, Torbjørn, Katrine and Tom. Funding came from the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (previously SIU, now DIKU), GBIF and the Research School in Biosystematics (ForBio).

For those who might not know, ForBio is a teaching and research initiative coordinated by the Natural History Museum in Oslo, the University Museum of Bergen, the Tromsø University Museum and the NTNU University Museum. It is funded by the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative and the Research Council of Norway. The Research School offers a wide variety of both practical and theoretical courses in biosystematics, and provides a platform for facilitating teaching and research collaboration between Nordic research institutes.  The course portfolio is likely to have something of interest to offer if you work with anything related to biosystematics –and is open (and often free) to you if you are student, researcher or staff at universities, institutes and consulting companies.

Most of the ForBio courses are arranged in Norway or other Nordic countries – but this course was the second of a total six that are arranged as part of the SIU-funded MEDUSA*-project (Multidisciplinary EDUcation and reSearch in mArine biology in Norway and Russia), which is coordinated by Nataliya. The six courses are

  1. ForBio and DLN course: Comparative Morphology Methods (Trondheim, Norway 2018)
  2. Data mobilization skills: training on mobilizing biodiversity data using GBIF and BOLD tools (Siberia, Russia 2018)
  3. Zooplankton communities – taxonomy and methods (Espegrend Marine Biological Station, UiB, Norway, tentatively May 2019)
  4. Systematics, Morphology and Evolution of Marine Mollusks (Vostok Marine Research Station, Institute of Marine Biology, Vladivostok, Russia, September 2019)
  5. Systematics, Morphology and Evolution of Marine Annelids (Espegrend Marine Biological Station, UiB, Norway, tentatively June 2020)
  6. Diversity and Evolution of Meiobenthos (White Sea Biological Station, Moscow State University, Russia, September 2020)

We enjoyed the opportunity to visit such a remote locality, and to get to know the students and teachers – thank you all for making this such a wonderful experience!

Thanks also to the BOLD support team for excellent help before and during the course!

A few snapshots from the area – it was stunning! Photos by K. Kongshavn

A beautiful view from Olkhon Island (after the course), photo by K.Kongshavn

ps: we also tweeted using #ForBio_GBIF during the course

Fieldwork during the “Jentedykketreff”

Askøy Seilforening 24th till 26th of August 2018
by Cessa Rauch

Jentedykketreff
Every year a group of female divers from all over Norway organize a meetup at one of the many beautiful dive sites along the Norwegian coast. This year they decided to meet up in Askøy at the local seilforening. As this is close to Bergen, me and my colleague Justine Siegwald decided to check it out and see what the ladies would encounter underwater. The meetup was short, and so was our fieldwork, but nevertheless the participants were able to collect a bunch of sea slugs and we added 6 more species to our database, hurray for our citizen scientists!

Sea slugs of Southern Norway – so far
The sea slugs of Southern Norway project is a two-year project funded by Artsdatabanken with the aim of mapping the biodiversity of sea slugs along the Southern part of the Norwegian coast. The focal area stretches from Bergen, Hordaland, all the way down to the Swedish border. From the beginning we have made an effort to engage divers and underwater photographers passionate about sea slugs and establish a network of Citizen Scientists, and the response was extremely positive. Citizen scientists are volunteers that help out scientists by providing them with data as a hobby in their spare time. In May the project had its first official launch with a successful expedition to Drøbak, a little village well known for its marine biology institute, near Oslo in the Oslofjords. In just two weeks we were able to collect around 43 species.

Overview of almost all collected species during the Drøbak expedition in May 2018

Two months later we headed to Haugesund to attend the Slettaa Dykkerklubb dive camp. This camp covered two weeks and attracted many participants. During the dive camp I lectured about sea slugs and especially how to find, recognize and collect them. It was a huge hit and Sea slugs of Southern Norway suddenly counted many new citizen scientists. They were able to add another 22 sea slug species to our database.

Overview of all the collected species during the Haugesund dive camp in July 2018

What did you do this weekend?
Friday afternoon Justine and I were picked up from the institute by the organizer of this years’ yentedykketreff; Gry Henriksen.

Grys’ car turned into a game of Tetris

We actually didn’t really communicate well enough about the car size and very soon we realized that with our personal belongings and portable laboratory gear the car changed into a game of Tetris 

Luckily everything fitted and off we went for our short car ride to Askøy Seilforening. Just a little over an hour drive later we arrived at our destination and we were amazed to see what a luxurious weekend was waiting of us. The seilforening lets us use basically all the space they had, which consisted of a big warehouse were the participants could store their gear, a big ‘club’ house with a kitchen and enough space for all participants to have dinner together. Not to mention the eight tiny houses right at the shore, provided with everything you needed and more.

Askøy Seilforening (from www.askoy-seilforening.no)

 

Right after the arrival Justine and I converted the living room of our rental holiday home to a popup sea slug laboratory as that same evening the ladies already went for their first dive and of course collected some sea slugs for us.

Justine sorting sea slugs in the living room

It is not real sea slug season anymore (best times are more towards winter and early spring) so the collections were dominated mostly by two species; Limacia clavigera and Adalaria loveni.

Limacia clavigera up and down Adalaria loveni on brown kelp

But as the weekend progressed we could add some variety to this list with species as Elysia viridis,  Aplysia punctata, Edmundsella pedata and Cadlina laevis 

Elysia viridis

 On Saturday, after dinner, I gave a short talk about the project and showed the participants pictures of the slugs and brought sampling kits for whoever wanted to contribute to the project. That same day some divers had already collected species which we put in a plastic tray so everyone could have another good and detailed look at

Bucket full of sea slugs (and flatworms)

A memorable success of the weekend was that Gry Henriksen found her first Elysia viridis in the wild during her dive after Justine and I carefully described the way to spot them. Elysia viridis is often overlooked by divers because it lives relatively shallow, between 1 maximum 5 meters. It mostly sits in the green algae (or red as we see it in the picture above) . It is actually easier to see them while snorkeling than diving, but it is still possible! On the last day of the event Gry found hers and collected them for the project! Sunday most off our activities consisted of packing our gear and await one more last catch of slugs from the morning dive. Even though the amount of new species to the list was low, I was happy that we were welcome during this get together weekend as both me and Justine met a lot of old and new faces and were able to engage them into the project. The participants inspired us for setting up a ‘sea slug course’ that we hope to be able to realize the end of this year together with Gry Henriksen and the Askøy Seilforening! So, keep your eyes out for the next blog post as a lot off activities within the project are still to come!

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Justine Siegwald for being an excellent helping hand during the weekend. And I would like to thank all the participants of the jentedykketreff; Runa Lutnæs, Brit Garvik Dalva, Sofie Knudsen, Laila Løkkebergøen, Silje Skotnes Wollberg, Sissel Grimen, Hege Nyborg Drange and last but not least, the organizer of this event; Gry Henriksen!

 

Furthermore
Interested in where we stayed during this weekend? Check out the website of Askøy Seilforening, they have excellent facilities also for (marine biology) courses; http://www.askoy-seilforening.no

Sea slugs of Southern Norway recently got its own Instagram account! Perfect for on the go if you would like to quickly check some species, click here https://www.instagram.com/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/ and don’t forget to follow us.

Curious to the other expeditions we did so far? Read about it in our blogs on the invertebrate website; first fieldwork blog Drøbak may 2018 https://invertebrate.w.uib.no/2018/06/04/fieldwork-and-friendship/ and second fieldwork blog Haugesund July 2018 https://invertebrate.w.uib.no/2018/07/20/seaslug-fieldwork-during-the-haugesund-dive-camp/

Become a member of the sea slugs of southern Norway facebook group, stay updated and join the discussion; https://www.facebook.com/groups/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/

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