Author Archives: katrine

Fieldwork and friendship!

Drøbak 6th till 15th of May 2018

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

Sea slugs of Norway, a love story

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

Caronella pellucida, photographed by Anders Schouw

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

The citizens that are scientists

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

Back to Drøbak

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

Manuel Malaquias with Tine Kinn Kvamme

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

Tine’s sea slug species check list for the area

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

Doto fragilis

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

Anders Schouw showing his photography skills in the laboratory

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

Fjordia lineata photographed by Nils Aukan

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

The gate to grass

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

Heine Jensen with Manuel Malaquias

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

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

Facelina bostoniensis on sea grass photographed by Anders Schouw

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

You reap what you sow

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

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

Acknowledgments

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

By Cessa Rauch and Manuel Malaquias

Guest researcher: Marla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in the lab…

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

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

Harpinia abyssi P7. Photo: M. Spencer

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

Basuto specimen pereopod 5. Photo: M. Spencer

Basuto specimen Mandible, Photo: M. Spencer

At work in the DNA lab

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

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

-Marla

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

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

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

 

Artwork of Ramisyllis multicaudata by Sarah Faulwetter

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

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

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

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

Marie Curie project results

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

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


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

The 7th International Barcode of Life (IBOL) conference

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

Participants of IBOL 2017. Photo by J. Potgieter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our contributions:

Our five posters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

-Jon, Tom, Lloyd & Katrine

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

Bryozoan barcoding

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

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

Sampling site of barcoded Bryozoans in the BOLD database

Sampling site of barcoded Bryozoans in the BOLD database

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

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

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

n344_w1150

Bicellariella ciliata for barcoding

Bicellariella ciliata for barcoding

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

The specimens on the plate

The specimens on the plate

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

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


Some further reading:

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

Wikipedia has a nice post on Bryozoa

 

Guest Researcher: Joan

Dr Joan Soto from the University of Valencia (Spain), visited us at the museum during August/September 2017 to collaborate with HYPNO on the mysterious issue of linking hydroids and their medusae. We asked him about his experience, and got the following:

Joan, ready to go jelly-hunting under the blue sky!

Joan, ready to go jelly-hunting under the blue sky!

Imagine a caterpillar and its butterfly described as different species by the scientific community. Now think on how confusing it would be if everybody kept calling them with different names over centuries. Well, this is the case of many hydroids and their corresponding medusae!

Hydrozoans, together with other well-known animals such as corals, anemones and jellyfishes, are included within the Phylum Cnidaria. Most hydrozoans are metagenetic, which means that they alternate between asexual (the polyp, usually benthic) and sexual (medusae, usually pelagic) stages in their life. Since the early works by Linnaeus in the mid-18th century, the very first scientists who showed interest in hydrozoans specialized primarily in a single stage of their life cycle, often neglecting the other, and even those courageous scientists who accepted the challenge of studying both groups were unable to discover the correspondence between such different animals as the polyp and the medusa.

Nowadays, in the era of molecular tools, new techniques are revealing that things are not what they seem, neither do they look like what they really are. Thanks to project HYPNO, several links between polyps and medusae have been found, with the subsequent adjustment in their ID (a.k.a. their scientific name), but that is not all! New evidences are bringing to light that some hydrozoans, even if they are morphologically identical to each other, in reality belong to different species, a fact known as “cryptic species”.

Both of these phenomena may be involved in the taxonomic confusion surrounding the hydroid Stegopoma plicatile and the medusa Ptychogena crocea, the former a worldwide reported species, the latter a Norwegian endemism. How can a medusa be so restricted in distribution while its hydroid lives everywhere? Perhaps now we know the answer thanks to molecular tools: Stegopoma plicatile may represent a complex of species, hiding a misunderstood diversity, and similar S. plicatile hydroids may produce different Ptychogena medusae. In other words, perhaps the polyp does not have such a wide distribution, and records from other parts of the world should be re-examined in detail, paying special attention to the tiniest and easily overlooked details of its morphology. But of course this is a job only for very patient detectives…

Hydroids of Stegopoma plicatile (like this one) from all over the world look very similar to each other, but may produce very different medusae.

Hydroids of Stegopoma plicatile (like this one) from all over the world look very similar to each other, but may produce very different medusae.

These beautiful medusae of Ptychogena crocea collected in Korsfjord were sexually mature. You can see the four gonads as folded masses of yellow tissue in each jellyfish.

These beautiful medusae of Ptychogena crocea collected in Korsfjord were sexually mature. You can see the four gonads as folded masses of yellow tissue in each jellyfish.

Thus, this was the objective of my recent visit to the Bergen University Museum. An outstanding month surrounded by enthusiastic scientists, amazing landscapes, restricted doses of sun, and upcoming challenges: we trust that current and future analyses combining both molecular and morphological taxonomy will lead to settle the correspondence of Stegopoma hydroids with other Ptychogena-like medusae from all over the globe, or even to the description of new species to science!

Deploying the net with help of the crew from RV "Hans Brattstrøm"

Deploying the net with help of the crew from RV “Hans Brattstrøm”

Team-work during the sampling makes everything a lot easier!

Team-work during the sampling makes everything a lot easier!

The amazing crane of the RV "Hans Brattstrøm" allowed us to efficiently hunt for jellyfish at the fjords.

The amazing crane of the RV “Hans Brattstrøm” allowed us to efficiently hunt for jellyfish at the fjords.

This is what our samples look like when we finally get to look at them on board

This is what our samples look like when we finally get to look at them on board

-Joan

Getting back in business

The blog has been quiet over summer – but we’ve been busy!

The #AnnelidaCourse2017 came to an end, and happy participants went back to their home institutions with a lot of new knowledge, a increased contact network, and many new friends.

a)Students working in the lab; b) Picking interesting animals from the samples onboard R/V Hans Brattström; c) Animals to be studied; d) Group photo of most of the participants; e) Detailed study and drawing of a specimen; f) Field work onboard R/V Aurelia Fotos: K.Kongshavn (a,b,e), G. Kolbasova (c), G.Jolly (d), S. Rosli (f)

a) Students working in the lab; b) Picking interesting animals from the samples onboard R/V Hans Brattström;
c) Animals to be studied; d) Group photo of most of the participants; e) Detailed study and drawing of a specimen; f) Field work onboard R/V Aurelia Fotos: K.Kongshavn (a,b,e), G. Kolbasova (c), G.Jolly (d), S. Rosli (f)

Heaps (HEAPS!) of samples have been cataloged and labeled, DNA-sequencing has completed on the shipment we sent in June and we’re working on analyzing the results, and samples from the cruises we particpated on have and are being sorted.

The next shipment of animals to be barcoded through NorBOL is being assembled – of marine invertebrates from our collections, one plate of polychaetes and one plate of isopods have been prepared, and we plan on completing a few more plates before shipping in October.

Isopods for barcoding - these have all been collected and identified by the MAREANO project. Photo: K.Kongshavn

Isopods for barcoding – these have all been collected and identified by the MAREANO project. Photo: K.Kongshavn

We will also get contributions from several of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative projects (Artsprosjekt) that are running, and a plate with insect samples made by the students of BIO233 (I was down there today giving them an introduction to barcoding, NorBOL and the BOLD database) – hopefully we’ll get good results on all of it.

-Katrine

Happy Polychaete Day!

For the third time, we’re celebrating the wonderful world of worms with an International Polychaete Day!

Polychaetes – bristle worms – are segmented worms, mainly marine, that live from the intertidal down to the abyssal zone. There’s more than 12 000 species of them world wide, and they can be active swimmers or live in burrows, be hunters, scavengers, carnivores or herbivores, filter feeders, or parasites – the group is old, and display a wide varity of body shapes, life modes and colours.

Some of the wonderful worms that were collected during #AnnelidaCourse2017. From top left: Glyceridae, Syllidae, Spionidae, Cirratulidae, Phyllodocidae, Scalibregmatidae, Flabelligeridae, Polynoidae, Serpulidae and Cirratulidae

Some of the wonderful worms that were collected during #AnnelidaCourse2017. From top left: Glyceridae, Syllidae, Spionidae, Cirratulidae, Phyllodocidae, Scalibregmatidae, Flabelligeridae, Polynoidae, Serpulidae and Cirratulidae (photos & montage: K.Kongshavn)

The tradition started as a way to honour Kristian Fauchald’s memory, you can read more about that, and him, here: The 1st International Polychaete day (our blog post), and also in these two Storify collections of posts from all over the world on Twitter for the first year, and for the second.

The day itself is on July 1st (Kristian’s birthday), but we’re starting early this year since that falls on a Saturday.

As a University Museum, we are actively initiating, conducting and collaborating on research projects with colleagues from all over the world. Our scientific collections form the backbone of this research, and is constantly being added to – both by material we recive through collaboration with large scale programs such as the seabed mapping program MAREANO from Norwegian shelf areas and the collecting done by R/V Dr. Fritjof Nansen along the western coast of Africa,  but also through our own crusies, and participation on research cruises such as the ones run by SponGES and the Sognefjorden project.

Here are a few recent snapshots from life at sea on the hunt for worms:

gjester-januar-2016

 

norbol logoThrough the Norwegian Barcode of Life (NorBOL) project, we are working on building a comprehensive library of genetic barcodes: short, species specific DNA sequences. Polychaetes are a focus group here, and so far over 3000 specimens from close to 700 species have been submitted from Norwegian and Arctic waters. We have also barcoded over 1000 specimens of African polychaetes through our MIWA-project (Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa).

A few weeks ago we hosted the (very!) International Course on Annelid Systematics, Morphology and Evolution at the marine biological station in Espegrend outside Bergen, where close to 40 worm researchers from 12 different countries gathered to teach and learn more about annelids.

Happy, hard working  students in the lab

Happy, hard working students in the lab

If you want to see what “polychaetologists” all over the world are coming up with to celebrate, you can click here to be taken to all Twitter posts tagged with #PolychaeteDay – feel free to contribute!

Fieldtrip to Taiwan: sampling on the periphery of the coral triangle

As part of our research programme to study “opisthobranch” molluscs in the Indo-West Pacific and understand the drivers of present diversity and biogeography on this region, we carried out a 3-week fieldtrip to Taiwan during May 2017. Taiwan is located in the China Sea north of the Philippines on the periphery of the “coral triangle”, the richest marine hotspot in the world contained within Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.

Goniobranchus kuniei. Longdong, NE Taiwan

Goniobranchus kuniei. Longdong, NE Taiwan

Although situated outside this hotspot, Taiwan is influenced by the warm water Kuroshio Current flowing from the Philippines along the Luzon Strait and striking the southern part of Taiwan where it splits in two branches which drift northwards along both the eastern and western coastlines of the country. This confers to Taiwan tropical characteristics on its southern regions with occurrence of vast and diverse coral reef systems, while the northern coasts are of sub-tropical affinity with waters up to five degrees cooler. This combination of different oceanographic and climatic features, result on the occurrence of an extremely diverse marine fauna with different ecological requirements.

To cover different oceanographic regimes in the best possible way within our limited timeframe, we visited three regions for about one week each.

We first sampled along the southern tip of Taiwan at the Kenting National Park together with Professor Chung-Chi Hwang from the National University of Kaohsiung.

The sampling team-at-Kenting-left-to-right-Trond-Oskars-Wei-Ban-Jie-Chung-Chi-Hwang-Manuel-Malaquias

The sampling team at Kenting. left to right: Trond Oskars, Wei Ban Jie, Chung Chi Hwang, Manuel Malaquias

Here are some of the animals we encountered at Kenting:

Who are you?

Who are you?

The second week was dedicated to the off shore island of Penghu in the Strait of Taiwan where we have worked together with Professor Yen-Wei Chang and his students from the National Penghu University of Science and Technology.

A happy party of sea slug hunters in Penghu, Taiwan

A happy party of sea slug hunters in Penghu, Taiwan

The garage of our hostel in Penghu, transformed into a wet lab for a week

The garage of our hostel in Penghu, transformed into a wet lab for a week

Goniobranchus cf. sinensis

Goniobranchus cf. sinensis

Hypselodoris maritima

Hypselodoris maritima

A beautiful flatworm

A beautiful flatworm

Finally, we sampled on the NE coast along the Longdong area in collaboration with Dr Vincent Chen and Dr Wei-Ban Jie, the first an authority on Taiwanese coastal ecology and the latter the author of the book “Taiwan Nudibranchs”.

A glimpse of the beautiful waterscapes at Longdong, Taiwan

A glimpse of the beautiful waterscapes at Longdong, Taiwan

Phyllidia ocellata Longdong, NE Taiwan

Phyllidia ocellata Longdong, NE Taiwan

Thuridilla sp. Longdong, NE Taiwan

Thuridilla sp. Longdong, NE Taiwan

Halgerda carlsoni Longdong, NE Taiwan

Halgerda carlsoni Longdong, NE Taiwan

Shallow habitats between the tidal zone down to 30 m deep were surveyed for “opisthobranchs”, and at the end we estimate to have collected a staggering 140 species.

The samples are now under curation and will soon be integrated in the systematic collections of the Natural History Museum of Bergen, becoming available for scientific study.

-Manuel Malaquias, Natural History Museum of Bergen, UiB