Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa Project (MIWA)
Most work is more fun when working together. It also makes for better science to cooperate – and the easiest way to cooperate on taxonomy is to sit at the same lab for some time – to be able to look at the same specimens and see the same details that should be examined. This is the plan for the amphipods from the MIWA-project. Ania Jażdżewska from the University of Łódź in Poland is visiting our lab for an extended week of collaboration with me in a mini-workshop on the amphipod samples.
But before a visitor can come, preparations are necessary. So for the last 6 weeks I have been sorting all the ethanol-samples of our west-african crustaceans into separate orders (isopods, tanaidaceans, cumaceans, decapoda), and the amphipods (also an order) have been sorted to family.
Ground zero: a jar of unsorted sample.
Biodiversity in a dish! (photo: K. Kongshavn)
Zooming in… there are many, many animals in this particular sample! (photo: K. Kongshavn)
Spot the amphipods? (photo: K. Kongshavn)
The samples are first sorted into the main groups (usually Crustacea, Polychaeta, Mollusca, Echinodermata and the multi-purpose category “Varia”) (photo: K. Kongshavn)
The jars marked Crustacea are then turned over to the people who work on the various crustacean groups (Photo:A.H. Tandberg)
From subphylum (Crustacea) to families and beyond (Photo:A.H. Tandberg)
They then sort it further… (Photo:A.H. Tandberg)
Here are the groups Anne Helene uses when sorting (Photo:A.H. Tandberg)
Eventually we have a pile of vials sorted to family (or order, or species…) level (Photo:A.H. Tandberg)
98 samples have been split into 629 smaller vials – ready to be further examined when Ania comes.
We promise a follow-up on what this brings of fun science!
Pictured above is a cute polychaete (bristle worm) from the genus Diopatra. It was collected in Mauritania, and has been photographed using Scanning Electon Microscopy (SEM). Although I ended up describing 9 new species of Diopatra worms in my master’s thesis, many worms were still left undescribed, this is one of those.
Last week we had yet another visitor here, this time from the University of A Coruña in Spain. Julio was here to continue his work on polychaetes in the family Oweniidae, from both Norwegian and African waters.
The invertebrate collections are high in demand these days, and we have a string of visitors coming here to examine the material. One of these is São from the University of Aveiro, Portugal. She works with polychaetes in the family Nephtyidae. In her own words:
18-23 October – After an amazingly (for Bergen ☺) sunny Sunday, with a wonderful walk through the mountain, I had a very productive week looking through nephtyids from Western Africa. More than 300 specimens were examined and ascribed to 13 putative species. The results were very exiting! Interesting distribution patterns and a couple of potentially new species for science. Now we are waiting for barcodes…
Almost 300 researchers from many nations were convened last week at the beautiful Campus Westend of the Goethe–University in Frankfurt for the 8th International Crustacean Congress (ICC-8). Many interesting talks and high quality posters were presented over six days. A special workshop on DNA-identification and barcoding filled the auditorium to the the edge and left many attendants standing through the session. EW gave a 15 minutes talk on results from our barcoding of decapods and stomatopods. He particularly emphasized how barcoding can reveal discordant species identifications among different labs and research environments and pinpoint the need for reidentification and / or taxonomic revision of species.
Kenneth Meland (BIO, UiB) presented results from phylogenetic analyses of the ancient group Lophogastrida. Separate analyses of morphological characters and DNA from four genes show surprisingly congruent results and have given us a new understanding of relations among the families of the group. Meland cooperates with EW and Stefan Richter (Univ. Rostock) in this project.
We’re spending the first two weeks of July out on our marine field station, running a workshop with participants from nine different countries on material from Western Africa. You can read more about this on our project blog: Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa
R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen sampling stations for which benthic samples have been deposited in the Invertebrate Collections of Bergen. Red dots: the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME). Yellow dots: the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME)
Since 2005 the research vessel R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen has been sampling benthic invertebrates on the continental shelf of the large marine ecosystems (GCLME and CCLME) of West Africa. A large bulk of the material is kept in our collection and is being processed for taxonomic and other studies by several workers.
These days we are particularly focusing on the true crabs (Brachyura) and are preparing specimens for DNA barcoding with the BOLD system. This work will produce open access data (genetics, morphology, distribution) to enhance a broader knowledge about Atlantic marine biodiversity. The project is financially supported by JRS Biodiversity Foundation.
Cronius ruber (Lamarck, 1818) caught off Guinea at 35 m depth in May 2012. (Identification E.Willassen)
A small assembly of crabs photographed and prepared for DNA barcoding. Some specimens have still kept some colors despite being preserved in ethanol