Category Archives: Field work

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 #15: The eye of the beholder

It’s funny to see the different reactions to fresh material that comes in to the museum;  the exhibition team had  received some kelp that will be pressed and dried for the new exhibitions (opening fall 2019), and I ducked in to secure some of the fauna sitting on the kelp before it was scraped off and discarded. For the botanists, the animals were merely a distraction that needed to be removed so that they could deal with the kelp, whilst I was trying to avoid too much algae in the sample as it messes up the fixation of the animals.

I chose the right shirt for the day- it’s full of nudibranchs! (photo: L. Martell)

 

I then spirited my loot into the lab, and set up camp.

Count me in amongst the people who stare at lumps of seaweed.

 

Who’s there? The whole lump is ~12 cm.

How many animals do you see here? Which ones appeal to you?

I have made a quick annotation of some of the biota here:

Note that these are just some of the critters present…! (photo: K. Kongshavn)

Let’s go closer on a small piece of algae:

Now, what do you see? (photo: K. Kongshavn)

For Luis, the first thing to catch the eye was (of course) the Hydrozoa

Hydrozoans (the christmas light looking strings), encrusting bryozoans (the flat, encrusting growth on on the algae – you might also know them as moss animals), and some white, spiralling polychaete tubes  (photo: K. Kongshavn)

Did you spot the sea hare (Aplysia punctata?) Look a bit above the middle of the photo of the tiny aquarium with the black background. Do you see a red-pink blob?

Hello, Aplysia punctata! (photo: K. Kongshavn)

There were also several other sea slugs that I have handed over to Cessa for inclusion in the sea slugs of Southern Norway project, here are a few:

Then there were the shelled gastropods:

The brittle star from the earlier image – this is a Ophiopholis aculeata, the crevice sea star (photo: K. Kongshavn)

In fact, they both are Ophiopholis aculeata (in Norwegian we call them “chameleon brittle stars” – they live up to the name!), one of the very common species around here. (photo: K. Kongshavn)

One of the colonial ascidian tunicates (and some of the ever present bryozoa just below it) (photo: K. Kongshavn)

Most of these animals will be barcoded, and will help build our reference library for species that occur in Norway. I also hope that they may have helped open your eyes to some of the more inconspicuous creatures that live just beneath the surface?

2019 will see the start of a new species taxonomy project where we will explore the invertebrate fauna of shallow-water rocky shores, so there will be many more posts like this to come!

-Katrine

Door # 11: Animal rocks and flower animals

The phylum Cnidaria is a diverse group of animals united by their ability to synthesize a complex type of ‘stinging’ cells called cnidocytes, which they use to hunt for their prey. The more than 13 000 species of cnidarians come in many shapes and colors, from the familiar jellyfish and corals, to the less famous myxozoans, hydroids, and siphonophores (read some more about those here). Because cnidarians live and thrive in marine and freshwater environments all around the world, humans have become familiar with them since ancient times: they have been feared for their sting, worn as jewelry, or simply admired for their beauty.

Sea nettles (genus Chrysaora) and ‘terrestrial’ nettles (genus Urtica) belong to very different groups of organisms, but share their name because of their stinging abilities. In some languages, like Norwegian and Swedish, cnidarians are called “nettle animals” (nesledyr and nässeldjur, respectively). Photo: Luis Martell (left), Nannie Persson (right).

Despite this familiarity, the true nature of cnidarians long remained unclear to naturalists and non-professionals alike. Perhaps to a greater extent than any other large phylum in the animal kingdom, people have historically failed to recognize cnidarians as animals, or even as living beings. Early civilizations had some knowledge about corals, sea-anemones and large jellyfish, all of which were encountered frequently along the coasts, but although fishermen and sailors knew about the existence of coral reefs (the massive bodies of coral represented major hazards for navigation), the animals themselves were probably seen only as pieces of rock. Some of the sessile species of cnidarians with a hard skeleton were considered minerals until the second half of the 17th century, when the use of magnifying lenses and the invention of the microscope allowed scientists to realize that the stony coral fragments washed up on the shore were actually made up of small flower-like organisms.

With their tentacles surrounding a central disc, sea anemones (in the image a specimen of Aiptasia) look somewhat like submarine flowers. Their plant namesakes (for example the wood anemone Anemone nemorosa) are strictly terrestrial. Photo: Joan J. Soto-Àngel (left), Nannie Persson (right).

Historically, the most persistent confusion regarding the cnidarians has been with plants and algae. For more than 1 500 years, the immobile sea anemones, sea fans, and hydroids were thought to be strange marine flowers and were consequently studied by botanists, not zoologists. They grow attached to the substrate and many species die if detached, which left early naturalists in doubt as to whether they were plants or animals. Thus, the category ‘zoophytes’ (from Ancient Greek ζῷον, zoon, ‘animal’ and φυτόν, phytón, ‘plant’) was created for them. It was only in the first half of the eighteenth century when this view started to change, thanks to the observations of J. A. Peyssonnel and the work of botanist Bernard de Jussieu, who together managed to convince their colleagues about the animal nature of the zoophytes.

The ‘sea tomato’ (Actinia equina) is a common cnidarian along the Atlantic coasts of Europe. It may look like a tomato when it is not covered by water, but is not related to its vegetal look-alike. Photo: Nannie Persson

The flowers of submerged marine plants (like this Cymodocea nodosa) are usually not as colorful or conspicuous as sea anemones and corals. Photo: Joan J. Soto Àngel

Today we know more about these organisms and there are no longer doubts about their affiliation to the animal kingdom, although we can still see evidence of their botanical past in the names of several cnidarian groups. The word Cnidaria comes from the Greek word κνίδη (knídē, meaning ‘nettle’, referring to the plant genus Urtica), and was inspired by the stinging power of the plants. One of the largest groups of cnidarians, the Anthozoa (which includes the flower-looking sea anemones and corals) is aptly named with a word deriving from the ancient Greek roots for flower (antho-) and animal (-zoa). Because there are still many open questions in cnidarian biology, initiatives that chart the diversity of cnidarians (like the successful project HYPNO and the upcoming project NORHYDRO) are necessary to get to know more about the particularities of these interesting animals!

-Luis Martell and Nannie Persson 


References:

Jussieu, B. de, 1742. Examen de quelques productions marines qui ont été mises au nombre des plantes, et qui sont l’ouvrage d’une sorte d’insecte de mer. Mem. Acad. Roy. Sci. Paris, 1742, 392.

Edwards, C. 1972. The history and state of the study of medusa and hydroids. Proc. R. S. E. (B). 73, 25: 247-257.

Door #10: The Molluscan Forum 2018 in London

Special 20th anniversary 22.11.18
The Malacological Society of London
Conference talk about citizen scientists

A few weeks ago, Manuel Malaquias, Justine Siegwald and me travelled to London in order to attend the 20th anniversary conference of the Malacological Society of London, UK. This society is dedicated to research and education on molluscs. Although based in London (as the name refers to), the society is internationally orientated and welcomes all members interested in the scientific study of molluscs. The society was founded in 1893 and registered as a charity. One of the many activities of the society is to organize meetings and symposia, and this year it turned out to be a 20th anniversary of the molluscan forum!

It was an incredible interesting day with a lot of inspirational posters and talks. My mission for that day was to present our ‘Sea slugs of Southern Norway’ project with the emphasis on how citizen scientist made this project a success. I wanted to share with the audience how citizen scientists with the right approach could be the future for many scientific studies.

Cessa presenting at the Molluscan Forum, 22th of November 2018

But first let us have a look into the meaning of citizen science. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, citizen science is scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions. The term was first coined during the nineties in the United States of America. Since than it has grown in popularity, with multiple projects in the world that rely on the input of data generated by the general public. Some big and well-known examples are eBird, with roughly 411K users, Nasa Globe with 640K users, iNaturalist, with almost 1 million users and OPAL with 930K users and counting.

Increase of popularity of citizenscience projects per year, Nature 2018

Since the beginning of this year we put a lot of effort in setting up a network of volunteers and underwater photographers. We got many good people willing to contribute to our project and most them are located in the South of Norway, but we also have a few located more further up North in Norway. Currently we have around 150 members directly and indirectly involved in helping us with our project. We try to involve our citizen scientist in the project as much as possible and one way is by reaching out to them via several social media platforms. For example, in our Facebook group community members can participate in discussions about species descriptions and share their findings etc. But we also have an Instagram account that functions as a pocket field guide for followers. Besides we try to keep everyone up to date about the project by regular posting blogs.

Cessa showing the different social media platforms used in the project during the Molluscan Forum

But our key element in this project definitely goes to the assembly and design of our sampling kits. These were designed specially for our citizen scientists in order to make collecting easier, more accessible and more standardized for everyone. By trying to standardize the collecting steps with so-called instructed sampling kits we minimized the errors that could occur during sampling of the data. The sampling kits contain plastic jars for the samples, fixative, preprinted labels and a USB flash drive with enough space for high-resolution pictures and a preset excel file that only needs filling in.

Example of the content of a citizen science sampling kit designed for the Sea slugs of Southern Norway project

We noticed that this approach worked out and the data quantity and quality increased as well the recruitment became easier. When we look at all the Norwegian sea slug records from the museum collection since the 19th century, it consists of roughly 1400 records. In just over six months time we see that the contribution of the citizen scientists covers almost half of that.

A comparison of the amount of records collected by citizen scientists since this year compared to our museum collection

Eubranchus farrani species complex, one species or multiple?

The material that is sent in by the citizen scientists is at the moment being studied by us. We have two master students who will start working in January on a variety of taxonomic challenges by studying the different geographical material.

 

An example of this is Eubranchus farrani species complexes that have different color morphotypes from different geographical locations. Do we deal here with one species or multiple?

Stay tuned for a follow up!

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, click here https://www.instagram.com/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/ 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; https://www.facebook.com/groups/seaslugsofsouthernnorway/

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

-Cessa

Door #9: To catch an Amphipod

As many of you might have read earlier in this blog, the projects NorAmph and Hypno have been regularly sampling in Hjeltefjorden for the past year. As a part of my master thesis, I was lucky to be able to come with! My thesis will be about amphipods and their seasonal variety in Hjeltefjorden, which is super exiting!

The RP-sled used for the sampling.

For each time we go out, we sample with a RP-sled, a WP3 plankton net and we collect CTD data. The samples from the RP-sled will be used for my thesis and other projects if we find something interesting. During the last year we collected samples 9 times, which has given us some great days out at sea!

During these cruises we have had lots of fun! We have had cake, snacks and regularly done yoga on deck! We have been mostly lucky with the weather (except for our original cruise day in February, which had to be moved due to lots of wind, which you can read about here: Solskinnstokt)

 

A great view from our February cruise, with a clear blue sky and no wind! (Photo: K. Kongshavn)

We have been mostly lucky in getting great samples!

Lots of exciting material to get our hands on! (photo: AH Tandberg)

But sometimes not so lucky…

It is not easy to be a happy master student when the codend is almost empty… (Photo: AH Tandberg)

In October we had our last cruise, which was a great end to a year of sampling! We were not as lucky with the weather this time, but the samples look very nice. We also had cake to celebrate the last cruise day!

A great view in Hjeltefjorden (Photo: C. Østensvig)

Coffee breaks on deck are always important! (Photo: AH Tandberg)

It is somewhat sad to be done with the sampling, but with all the material collected, it is time to hit the lab! With all the samples, I sort out and identify all the amphipods I find. So far, I have found lots of cool amphipods, and I am starting to see some patterns in the material.

Here are some of the Amphipods I have found. All photos: K. Kongshavn

My work in the lab is far from done, and I am excited to look for new cool amphipods and hopefully find something interesting in their seasonal variation.

-Christine

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

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

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/

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

SeaSlug Fieldwork during the Haugesund Dive Camp

Haugesund 3rd till 10th of July 2018. 
by Cessa Rauch

The Sea slugs of Southern Norway project is going strong with already the second fieldwork trip checked off from our to-do list. Sea slugs of Southern Norway is a two-year project funded by Artsdatabanken aiming to map the diversity of sea slugs along the Southern part of the Norwegian coast. From around Bergen, Hordaland to the Swedish border, as this particular area of Norway has a huge gap of about 80 years without any dedicated work on sea slugs diversity being carried out. In May the project had its official kick off with a successful expedition to Drøbak, a little village near Oslo in the Oslofjord, where we were able to collect around 43 species, and met up with our dedicated collaborators from that area.

A selection of the species collected during the Drøbak expedition in May 2018. From left to right; top: Jorunna tomentosa, Doto dunnei, Facelina bostoniensis, middle: Doto coronata, Fjordia lineata, Limacia clavigera, bottom: Caronella pellucida, Microchlamylla gracilis, Rostanga rubra, photo credits: Anders Schouw

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. Their many years of experience result often in the accumulation of an immensely valuable knowledge about the taxonomy and ecology of these animals, which they eagerly share with us. We shall say, that the success of our project heavily rely on their input and willingness to help collecting samples, particularly because of the restrictions with scientific diving in Norway that we researchers face, that basically hamper any possibility to use this method for collecting slugs during our working time.

Dive camp Haugesund 2018

So far, we have citizen scientists helping us collecting sea slugs in the Oslofjord area, Egersund, Bergen, and Kristiansund. As you can see we miss a lot of coastline here still. Therefore, we decided to participate in the dive camp in Haugesund this year to see if we could get in touch with more enthusiastic hobby divers.

The dive camp was organized by the Slettaa Dykkerklubb Haugaland. Started in 2015, they are a relatively young club, but they grew very fast and have currently around 200 members. They are well known for the many activities they organize throughout the year that are often open to anyone who likes to participate.

Dive camp Haugesund pamphlet and picture

The timetable for the week (click to enlarge)

This year they decided to organize an actual dive camp that took a week and offered two dives a day, camping spot, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every day an interesting talk or tour related to diving. It was from 4th of July until the 10th and every day between the dives the participants had interesting meet-ups with marine biologists (like Vivian Husa), underwater photographers (Siv Pedersen and Vidar Skålevik from WEDIVE.no), and underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor. We also visited the company Kystdesign, and we got a safety lecture form Tor Oppegård.

One of the remote-controlled submarines that were presented during the tour

A very busy and informative week! It was a great success for the participants and organizers and there will be a similar event again next year.

There and back again

Microscope in the living room

The day before the camp started, I met with citizen scientist Anders Schouw, and we drove that evening from Bergen to Haugesund to check into our rented Airbnb flat.

Although the Dive Camp had arranged a camping ground for visitors, we decided to stick with renting a flat, in order to have our equipment properly installed. Once arrived, we had to add some adjustments to the apartment. The dining area was converted to a sea slug studio with trays and camera equipment installed. The living room was now our little laboratory with a microscope and laptops.

The dining area converted into our mobile sea slug studio and picture

I can reassure you that we left everything clean and tidy!

The review of the owner, after I left our converted laboratory for an actual apartment

The next day we met very early in the morning at the seashore to be picked up by one of the organizers of the dive camp.

Pick up by speedboat in order to cross the water

The actual event took place on a tiny island just a short boat ride away from the city center of Haugesund. From there we took the boat Risøygutt from Thomas Bergh that we used in order to commute from the island to all the beautiful diving spots surrounding Haugesund. The first day we met up with Klaus and Are Risnes (father and son) as one of the participants of the camp that day.

During the week, and especially during the weekend, the number of participants increased and at a given time we had to go out with two boats in order to bring the more than 20 divers to the dive spots. Anders would be diving with Thomas while Karl Oddvar Floen and Torbjørn Brekke were leading the dive.

Originally built as a shrimp boat, Risøygutt has converted to a diving boat years ago, and the current owner Thomas Bergh, continued to use it for diving activities

My main purpose during the dive camp was providing everyone with collecting jars, that they took with them every dive, in search of sea slugs.

Klaus Risnes after a dive within his collecting jar with the sea hare Aplysia punctata, notice the purple colored water, ink from the sea hare they produce when they are disturbed

The cool box with sea slug samples on Risøygutt, accompanied with Anders’ photography gear

Because we needed the species alive for photography and species identification, I brought a cool-box with ice with me on the boat were the jars with sea slugs were kept, in order to keep them cool.

I was running around on the boat  providing collecting jars to the divers during the whole week, but as the number of participants during the week increased, the collecting jars were running out.

Halfway, Anders and I decided to visit the local supply store and purchased a bunch of extra collecting jars for all the enthusiastic participants willing to catch some sea slugs for us

Collecting jars full with different species of sea slugs

Different sea slug species in a collecting jar (accompanied with three flatworms)

Every day after the two dives, Anders and I returned to our “Airbnb-lab” and started working on the sea slugs, that meant sometimes short nights, and as you guessed it, the more species, the less sleep

Working on collected specimen far past bedtime

The species collected were luckily all photogenic and we were very happy with the results!

Anne Mari With Ottesen helping out with sea slug sorting

 Luckily we got many enthusiasts helping out and one evening Anne Mari With Ottesen joined us on the identification of the sea slugs.

Halfway in the dive camp week I gave a lecture about sea slugs in general and about the Sea slugs in Southern Norway project. It helped divers to spot sea slugs easier as they become better informed about what and where to look for.

This helped tremendously as we continued to get different species of sea slugs after every dive. At the end of the week, the count was on 22 species!

Catch of the week, as it is our most rare species so far in our Artsdatabanken database, Aegires punctilucens, photo credits Anders Schouw

Photogenic Edmundsella pedata, photo credits Anders Schouw

Besides the good weather, the delicious seafood and many new friendships made, with the number of new slug species added to our list and the many new citizen scientists volunteering for our project now, I could say that the dive camp was a success. We will continue to collaborate with Slettaa Dykkerklubb and hopefully in the future will host a sea slug course for its members and participate with the dive camp again next year, I can’t wait. Tusen takk!

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Anders Schouw for all his effort in helping out during this week and I especially would like to thank him for his stamina during long days and short nights sorting the sea slugs!

We also would like to thank the organizers of the dive camp and Slettaa Dykkerklubb members; Åge Wee, Lars Einar Hollund, Thomas Bergh, Elisabeth Bergh, Torbjørn Brekke, Karl Oddvar Floen, Anne Mari With Ottesen and the numerous other enthusiastic participants that helped us out during the week! And a warm welcome to our new clan of citizen scientists!

Interested in our Sea slugs of Southern Norway project? Become a member of our Facebook group and get regular updates.

 

Further reading

Are you interested in the Slettaa Dykkerklub Haugaland? Visit their Facebook group or their website for more information.

Want to know more about underwater photography? Check the personal underwater photography blog on Facebook or visit this website for tips and tricks.

Always wanted to know more about Jason deCaires Taylors’ underwater art? Visit his website. Did you know that Jason has also underwater art installed in Oslo? Check this out;

Explore the world, read the invertebrate blogs!

Happy #PolychaeteDay!

Once again, it is time to celebrate our segmented friends from the sea – the Polychaetes, or bristle worms!

The tradition began in 2015 as a way to commemorate Kristian Fauchald, a key figure in the polychaetologist community for many years – as as a way for us to show off the cool critters that we work with!

We here at the Invertebrate collections have been celebrating in blog form each year, you can find the previous posts here:

2015: The 1st International Polychaete Day! 

2016: Happy International Polychaete Day! 

2017: Happy Polychaete Day! 

For the 2015 celebration we were lucky enough to receive some stunning images from polychaete photographers extraordinaire Fredrik Pleijel and Arne Nygren (as well as some of mine), I think those deserve another round in the spotlight:

 

As readers of this blog may be aware of, polychaetes are mainly marine, and 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 display a wide varity of body shapes, life modes and colours. Many are quite beautiful!

Phyllodoce citrina, Photo by Arne Nygren CC-BY-SA

This year we would like to highlight some of the science that employees here have contributed to, and share some glimpses of what we work on. People sometimes wonder if we “ever find new species?” and the answer to that is an unequivocal “YES”. It really is not entirely uncommon to come across undescribed species (especially of the minute variety) – the challenge often lies more in finding the time to formally describe them. We have a couple of species in the pipeline at the moment, such as this Orbiniella sp. n. from the Bergen region that we hope to finish describing quite soon

New to science!

Who works with polychaetes? On the recent International Polychaete Conferences (blog posts from2013 and 2016, web page for the upcoming in 2019) there was around 150 attendees.

The “polychaetologists”, or polychaete researchers, are a collaborative bunch, and most of our work involves co-authors from other institutions, and often also from several countries. We share material, go on and receive research visits, arrange workshops and field work, and co-author. Pictured here are some of the recent new species that have been described by people from the invertebrate collections (with co-authors, of course!):


To better our understanding of the diversity of the group, we use a combination of traditional morphology based identifications, and genetic methods.

The recent paper by Arne Nygren et al. (2018) A mega-cryptic species complex hidden among one of the most common annelids in the North East Atlantic, published in PLOS ONE 13(6) e0198356. and available through open access here:  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198356  is a striking example of how much higher the diversity might be. The paper examines the cryptic species diversity of the genus Terebellides in the North-East Atlantic, and reveals a stunning genetic diversity:

Many of the new species are common and wide spread, and the majority of the species are found in sympatry with several other species in the complex. Being one of the most regularly encountered annelid taxa in the North East Atlantic, it is more likely to find an undescribed species of Terebellides than a described one

This fits well with what we have observed though our work on polychaete diversity in the Nordic seas through several Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative Projects (“Artsprosjekt”), and studies of the museum material. We presented a summary of our findings for some polychaete families at the IBOL conference in South Africa. We find that there is a clear need for thorough vetting of reference databases of genetic barcodes so that the barcodes can be validated to named species – and to do that, we first need to figure out who is who! This requires in-depth knowledge of the history, practice, and current state of the taxonomy obtained with traditional methods. We find that the polychaete diversity in Nordic waters is at least 30% higher than presently known, even though this is among the best studied marine areas of the world. 

All the posters can be found on the conference web site, ours is #825.

In other words, there is much left to explore!

To continue the Polychaete Day celebrations, head on over to Twitter and #PolychaeteDay!


Polychaete papers involving authors from the Invertebrate Collections:

Alvestad, T & Budaeva, N (2015) Neosabellides lizae, a new species of Ampharetidae (Annelida) from Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  Zootaxa 4019 (1): 061–069

Alvestad, T.,Kongsrud, J.A., Kongshavn, K. (2014) Ampharete undecima, a new deep-sea ampharetid (Annelida, Polychaeta) from the Norwegian Sea. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 2014; Volume 71. pp. 11-19

Arias A., Paxton H., Budaeva N. 2016. Redescription and biology of Diopatra neapolitana (Annelida: Onuphidae), a protandric hermaphrodite with external spermaducal papillae. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 175: 1–17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2016.03.002

Budaeva, N. (2014) Nothria nikitai, a new species of bristle worms (Annelida, Onuphidae) from the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean. Marine Biodiversity 2014, DOI:10.1007/s12526-014-0244-1

Budaeva, N., Jirkov, I., Savilova, T., Paterson, G. (2014) Deep-sea fauna of European seas: An annotated species check-list of benthic invertebrates living deeper than 2000 m in the seas bordering Europe. Polychaeta. Invertebrate Zoology 2014 ;Volum 11.(1) s. 217-230

Budaeva, N., Pyataeva, S., Meissner, K. (2014) Development of the deep-sea viviparous quill worm Leptoecia vivipara (Hyalinoeciinae, Onuphidae, Annelida). Invertebrate biology. 2014; Volume 133.(3) s. 242-260

Phylogenetic tree of a bristle worm family Onuphidae (Budaeva et al., 2016)

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 

Eilertsen, M., Georgieva, M., Kongsrud, J.A, Linse, K., Wiklund, H.G., Glover, A., Rapp, H.T. (2018). Genetic connectivity from the Arctic to the Antarctic: Sclerolinum contortum and Nicomache lokii (Annelida) are both widespread in reducing environments. Scientific Reports 8:4810 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-23076-0

Eilertsen, M., Kongsrud, J.A, Alvestad, T., Stiller, J., Rouse, G., & Rapp, H.T (2017). Do ampharetids take sedimented steps between vents and seeps? Phylogeny and habitat-use of Ampharetidae (Annelida, Terebelliformia) in chemosynthesis-based ecosystems. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 17. 222. Doi: 10.1186/s12862-017-1065-1.

Kongsrud J.A., Eilertsen M.H., Alvestad T., Kongshavn K., Rapp HT. (2017) New species of Ampharetidae (Annelida: Polychaeta) from the Arctic Loki Castle vent field. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 137: 232-245. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.08.015

Kongsrud, J.A., Budaeva, N., Barnich, R., Oug, E., Bakken, T. (2013) Benthic polychaetes from the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the Azores and the Reykjanes Ridge, Marine Biology Research, 9:5-6, 516-546, DOI: 10.1080/17451000.2012.749997

Oug, E., Bakken, T. & Kongsrud, J.A. (2014) Original specimens and type localities of early described polychaete species (Annelida) from Norway, with particular attention to species described by O.F. Müller and M. Sars. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 71, 217-236 http://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2014.71.17 

Oug, E., Bakken, T., Kongsrud, J.A., Alvestad, T. (2016) Polychaetous annelids in the deep Nordic Seas: Strong bathymetric gradients, low diversity and underdeveloped taxonomy. Deep-sea research. Part II, Topical studies in oceanography. 137: 102-112. Publisert 2016-07-06. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.06.016

Parapar, J., Kongsrud, J.A., Kongshavn, K., Alvestad, T., Aneiros, F., Moreira, J. (2017). A new species of Ampharete (Annelida: Ampharetidae) from the NW Iberian Peninsula, with a synoptic table comparing NE Atlantic species of the genus. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zlx077,https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx077

Queiros JP, Ravara A, Eilertsen MH, Kongsrud JA, Hilário A. (2017). Paramytha ossicola sp. nov. (Polychaeta, Ampharetidae) from mammal bones: reproductive biology and population structure. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 137: 349-358. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.08.017

Vedenin A., Budaeva N., Mokievsky V., Pantke C., Soltwedel T., Gebruk A. (2016) Spatial distribution patterns in macrobenthos along a latitudinal transect at the deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN. Deep-Sea Research Part I 114: 90–98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2016.04.015

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: K.Kongshavn

-Katrine