Category Archives: Marine Biodiversity of West Africa

Door #8: One jar –> many, many vials

Sorting the Crustacean samples from our

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.

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!

 -Anne Helene

Door #5: A (so far) undescribed species of bristle worm

Diopatra sp

Diopatra sp. Photo: M. Hektoen

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.


Guest Researchers: São

IMGP0472The 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…

International Conference on Crustacea in Frankfurt

Copy of GoetheUnivFrankfurt

The Casino building of the Goethe University

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.ICC-8_presentation

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.




Publicity in Barcode Bulletin

Barcode Bulletin is a newsletter from International Barcode of Life (IBOL).  Barcode Bulletin Vol. 4, No. 2 – December 2013 has recently published two stories about activites we are involved in. One nice piece of news is that the  Norwegian Biodiversity Information Center and the Research Council of Norway has decided to fund the NorBol consortium. The other news are about our summer 2013 workshop in the MIWA-project which was co-funded via IPBES.


Further work on West African biodiversity

A brittle star, Ophiura ophiura (scale bar is 0.5cm)

A brittle star, Ophiura ophiura (scale bar is 0.5cm)

In addition to the crabs (Brachyura) discussed in the previous post, we are also focusing on animal groups such as the brittle stars (Ophiuroidea) and bristle worms (Polychaeta).

Currently we are preparing samples for genetic barcoding though the BOLD system.

Here are a couple of photographs of the animals that have been through the mill of identification – photo documentation – tissue sampling this week.

A bristle worm from the family Maldanidae, partially encased in the tube that the animal dwells in (scale bar is 0.5 cm)

A bristle worm from the family Maldanidae, partially encased in the tube that the animal dwells in (scale bar is 0.5 cm)

Another and rather different looking bristle worm, this time from the family Onuphidae. Scale bar is 0.5 cm

Another and rather different looking bristle worm, this time from the family Onuphidae. Scale bar is 0.5 cm


Focus on West African crabs (Brachyura)

Shelf sampling stations

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)

Cronius ruber (Lamarck, 1818) caught off Guinea at 35 m depth in May 2012. (Identification E.Willassen)

Some West African true crabs (Brachyura)

A small assembly of crabs photographed and prepared for DNA barcoding. Some specimens have still kept some colors despite being preserved in ethanol