Category Archives: NorAmph

Door #13: The story you can find in a picture…

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. We use both drawings and photos (and sometimes even films) when we are describing species, and without these illustrations, we would often have to make guesses as to what the author meant when describing the morphology of the species in interest.

Generally, the old literature did not make as much room for illustrations as we have the possibility to do today – the printing often needed entire plates (pages) produced much in the same way an artist still produces a carved or engraved print today – and when there is a plate in an old publication it quite often is a piece of art. But – the plates (figure-pages) were expensive to print (even more than the text-pages), and thus often limited to the bare necessities.

There are exceptions! C. Spence Bate and J. O. Westwood (both with so many letters behind their names that they included “etc” at the front page) commissioned J van Voorst in London to print  their book “ A History of the British Sessile-Eyed Crustacea” in two volumes. The first came in 1863, the second in 1868.

And it is enjoyable reading. “Sessile-eyed” crustaceans are explained as those crustaceans who do not have stalked eyes (as for instance the crabs and shrimp have) and it was used to classify crustaceans since Leach in 1814 named the gruop “Edriophthalma” (sessile-eyed in greek). This group included Isopods and Amphipods – but the discussion was still going strong about what taxa should be included in these groups, and how they were “connected” with the other crustaceans. The gentlemen Bate and Westwood decided to describe and discuss each of the species they knew of as sessile-eyed in Britain. This would be a basis for the further discussions on higher groupings. Interspersed in the text are figures of the species and special morphological structures they are discussing, making the book easy to follow and understand. An introduction on the general morphology, physiology, reproductive biology and geographical distribution of the sessile-eyed crustaceans, the rest of part 1 discusses the Amphipoda.

They really mention every species they have come across – ever – from anywhere in Britain. Sometimes that may be one single specimen of what they think must be a new genus and species (and that seems to have been forgotten later),  and in addition to the drawings of the morphology they add a drawing of the location where it was found.

It is at the end of volume 1 that we come to the picture that captures my imagination the most. Under the discussion of Corophium longicorne  (accepted name: Corophium volutator) they discuss the extraordinary strong second antennae of the species:

“The inferior antennas are very powerful, and in the male are longer than the animal itself; the pentultimate joint of the peduncle being armed upon the inferior distal extremity with a strong tooth, which appears to assist considerably in holding any object when the extremity of the antennae is folded upon itself; this organ appearing to possess the strongest prehensile power, and being no doubt used as a weapon of offence in its battles with other animals in its struggle for existence.”

Corophium are known from sandy and muddy shores – where they “dwell in small tubular galleries, excavated in the mud, over which the tide flows and ebbs”.  They go on to discuss their ecology – as predators of other shore-living invertebrates.

They cite “Rambles of a Naturalist” of Quaterfages on the feeding habits of this fierce amphipod:
at about the end of April they come from the open sea in myriads (they are called Pernis by the fishermen of the coast of Saintoge) to wage war with the annelids, which they entirely destroy before the end of May; they then attack the mollusca and fish all through summer, and disappear in a single night about the end of October, and return again the following year.

Bate and Westwood do not follow up the story from Quaterfages with any other documentation, but they ask their readers to send them more data if they have. Corophium volutator was described already in 1766 by Pallas, and is found on sandy or muddy beaches all around the North Sea. Maybe you will see a battle between a Corophium and an annelid? All later research into this species and the close group of related amphipods show us that these are detrivorous (eating organic matter from the mud where it lives). We might never know what inspired the fishermen that Quaterfages talked to. But if you see something like this, we would really like to know!

-Anne Helene

Literature:
Bate CS, Westwood JO.1863. A history of the British Sessile-Eyed Crustacea. Part 1. John van Voorst, London (Paternoster Row). 580 pp.

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 #7: New shipment of tissue samples for barcoding

In the upper right corner is a “plate”: the microplates with 96 wells where we deposit small tissue samples that are to be processed at the CCDB lab in Canada for NorBOL

On the third day of Christmas,
we sent eleven microplates away:
one plate cnidarians (A)
two with worms a-wriggle (B)
two plates of insects (C)
three plates crustaceans (D)
two (and a half) plates of mites (E)
and a half-plate assorted a-arthropods (F)!

Ahem. Yes.

As Endre explained in the fifth post of the calendar, collecting, identifying, documenting and keeping specimens used for DNA barcoding is an important part of what we do here at the invertebrate collections. Our mission in the NORBOL consortium is to produce DNA-barcodes, particularly for marine fauna in Norwegian waters and to make these barcodes available with open access to records and metadata in the BOLD database. These samples contribute to the building of a validated reference library of the genetic barcodes of the species found in Norway. You can search for different taxonomic groups here to see if they have been barcoded from Norwegian territory: Search NorBOL

The process is fairly straight forward (at least on paper!): Animals are collected and identified. Those species relevant for barcoding are selected, and a specimen (=1 animal) is chosen to be barcoded. We take a small tissue sample from the specimen, and keep the rest of the animal as the barcode voucher; if the need should arise to check if it really is what we initially thought, it is crucial to be able to go back and check the animal again. The tissue samples are collected in wells on a plate like the one pictured above, and the information about the animals – where they were collected, who collected them, what species they are, who identified them and so on is uploaded to BOLD together with images of the animals.

Representatives for the tissue sample plates that we just shipped off. Thank you Steffen, Anna and Per for contributing the terrestrial animals and images! Photos: L. Martell, A. Seniczak, S. Roth, K. Kongshavn. Illustration: K. Kongshavn

On Monday we shipped a new batch of plates – as (attempted) illustrated in song above.

Included is material from several of the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative projects (artsprosjekt) that are happening at the University Museum of Bergen. We are coordinating the efforts on marine life, but are of course also facilitating the NorBOL barcoding of other organisms that take place at the UMB.  There are animals from NorAmph (Norwegian Amphipoda), Hydrozoan pelagic diversity in Norway (HYPNO), Orbatid mites, and the insects found associated with nutrient rich marshes in Hedmark in this shipment.

We have also prepared several plates of Crustaceans collected and identified by the Norwegian marine mapping programme Mareano – one of the great contributors of material to the collections.

Now we wait for the lab to process them, and for the genetic sequences to be uploaded to BOLD – fingers crossed for many interesting results!

-Katrine

Door # 6: The key to the question

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

Three different Amphilochidae from Iceland

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

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

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

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

Figure 14 from Tandberg et al

You might still wonder what an Amphilochid amphipod is?

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

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

-Anne Helene

Literature:

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

Tandberg AHS, Vader W 2018. On a new species of Amphilochus from deep and cold Atlantic waters, with a note on the genus Amphilochopsis (Amphipoda, Gammaridea; Amphilochidae). ZooKeys 731: 103-134. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.731.19899

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

The amphipods around Iceland – fresh special issue

IceAGE stations with amphipods. Red stations are analysed in the special issue. Fig 1 from Brix et al 2018

As the IceAGE-project presents their amphipod results in a special issue of ZooKeys, the invertebrate collections are represented with co-authors in 4 of the 6 papers. All papers in the special issue are of course Open Access.

Endre, Anne Helene and IceAGE-collaborators Anne-Nina and Amy have examined the Rhachotropis species (family Eusiroidea) from Norwegian and Icelandic waters, using material both from NorAmph and IceAGE. We see possible cryptic species, and we described to separate populations (and Arctic and one North Atlantic) of Rhachotropis aculeata.

Rhachotropis aff. palporum from IceAGE material. Fig 4G in Lörz et al, photographer: AHS Tandberg

Anne Helene has worked with Wim Vader from Tromsø Museum on Amphilochidae. The new species Amphilochus anoculus is formally described, and amphipod identifiers working with North-Atlantic material will be happy fo find a key to all Amphilochidae in the area. These minute and fragile animals are often lumped as family only, but the times for that are now over…

Key to the Amphilochidae from North Atlantic waters. Fig 14 from Tandberg & Vader 2018

Neighbour Joining tree of COI-sequences from IceAGE. The coloured lines on the side show possible interesting regions for further studies. Fig. 2 from Jazdzewska et al 2018

A paper on DNA fingerprinting of Icelandic amphipods is presented by Ania (who visited us two years ago to work on Phoxocephalid amphipods) and 10 coauthors. This study gives a very nice material to compare with the NorAmph barcodes, and some of the interesting results are discussed in the two first papers.

A summary-paper on the amphipod-families around Iceland (Brix et al) gives an overview of both biogeography and ecology of the amphipods in this area. This paper also presents faunistic data on Amphilochidae from the earlier BioIce project, where researchers from Bergen, Trondheim and Reykjavik sampled Icelandic waters.

Anne Helene

 

 

Literature:

Brix S, Lörz A-N, Jazdzweska AM, Hughes LE, Tandberg AHS, Pabis K, Stransky B, Krapp-Schickel T, Sorbe JC, Hendrycks E, Vader W, Frutos I, Horton T, Jazdzewski K, Peart R, Beermann J, Coleman CO, Buhl-Mortensen L, Corbari L, Havermans C, Tato R, Campean AJ (2018) Amphipod family distributions around Iceland. ZooKeys 731: 1-53 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19854

Jazszewska AM, Corbari L, Driskell A, Frutos I, Havermans C, Hendrycks E, Hughes L, Lörz A-N, Stransky B, Tandberg AHS, Vader W, Brix S (2018) A genetic fingerprint of Amphipoda from Icelandic waters – the baseline for further biodiversity and biogeography studies. ZooKeys 731: 55-73 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19913

Lörz A-N, Tandberg AHS, Willassen E, Driskell A (2018) Rhachotropis (Eusiroidea, Amphipoda) from the North East Atlantic. ZooKeys 731: 75-101 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19814

Tandberg AHS, Vader W (2018) On a new species of Amphilochus from deep and cold Atlantic waters, with a note on the genus Amphilochopsis (Amphipoda, Gammaridea, Amphilochidae). ZooKeys 731: 103-134 doi:10.3897/zookeys.731.19899

When amphipodologists meet.

It generally happens every two years. The event may be seen as a natural phenomenon – or maybe rather  a cultural phenomenon. I am sure it looks strange if observed from outside the community. A lot of people of all ages and affiliations meet up in places most of us usually did not even know existed, and we have the best week of our work-year.

Happy friends meeting in Trapani. (all photos: AH Tandberg)

Happy friends meeting in Trapani. (all photos: AH Tandberg)

The bi-annual International Colloquium on Amphipoda (ICA) is without doubt the scientific meeting I look most forward to.  Every time. The fun, the science, the amphipods, the friendships, the coffee, the familiar banter, the late nights and early mornings, the discussions – all in an atmosphere of friendship.

The Polish Amphipod-t-shirt edition 2017. (photo: AH Tandberg)

The Polish Amphipod-t-shirt edition 2017. (photo: AH Tandberg)

The first day of any ICA could be mistaken for a family-gathering – or the opening credits of any film about best friends. The room resounds of “oh – finally – there you are!”, “how are the kids/grandkids?”, “I missed you this last hour! Thought maybe you got lost since you weren’t here immediately” and not least “Come, let me give you that hug I promised!” Ten minutes later everybody will be organised by the large Polish group for some gathering or fun – and the rest of us are trying to find out how we can get one of the cool group-t-shirts the Łodz-group have concocted this year. Or maybe we should rather go for one of the other cool t-shirts picturing amphipods?

We do talk amphipods, of course. The incredible variety of the group (of animals – as well as people) opens up for a wide spectre of research-questions and approaches, and meetings allow time to learn from each other, get inspired, start new collaborations and share samples and ideas.

Most important: the science of amphipods. Loads of interesting talks and posters! (all photos: AH Tandberg)

Most important: the science of amphipods. Loads of interesting talks and posters! (all photos: AH Tandberg)

 

Those getting to the poster-session fast enough win the crochet amphipods... (photo: AH Tandberg)

Those getting to the poster-session fast enough win the crochet amphipods… (photo: AH Tandberg)

This years ICA was held in Trapani, Sicily – where prof Sabrina LoBrutto on a short one year notice had organised the meeting. The three days we met were packed with more than 60 talks, more than 60 posters and loads and loads of happy amphidologists. With the University situated right across the road from the beach, and a lunch hour long enough for both a coffee and a swim/sample search the friendly atmosphere stretched to drying towels on the railings of the university-hall and sea-salted hairstyles for many after lunch.

Keeping the atmosphere friendly: Beach, coffee and icecreams (all photos: AH Tandberg)

Keeping the atmosphere friendly: Beach, coffee and icecreams (all photos: AH Tandberg)

 

The scientifically helpful Japanese amphipod t-shirt. (now the rest of you should notice the morphological differences between the families). (photo: AH Tandberg)

The scientifically helpful Japanese amphipod t-shirt. (now the rest of you should notice the morphological differences between the families). (photo: AH Tandberg)

We always try to publish the Amphipod Newsletter to coincide with the ICA. You can download the newsletter both from the World Amphipoda Database and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (both places also have back-issues available for downloads). One of the features of the newsletter is a bibliography of amphipod-related literature, and a list of new taxa. Since last AN we have 79 new species, 14 new genera and 12 new families! Every AN includes an interview with one of the amphipodologists – this year you can get to know Wolfgang Zeidler and his Hyperiidea better.

The next ICA? In two years we meet in Dijon, France! I am already excited – and maybe there will be mustard-coloured t-shirts in honour of the location (or burgundy-coloured t-shirts)?  What I know already, is that it is going to be like meeting family.

Anne Helene

Fieldwork with the SponGES project on R/V Kristine Bonnevie

20170428_143104

Greetings from the big, old blue!

We don’t have much internet out here, so updates will be sporadic – but here’s the tale of the first half of the two cruises that the Invertebrate Collections people have stowed away on this spring. The current cruise is part of the SponGES-project that is being coordinated by the University of Bergen, Norway (prof. Hans Tore Rapp).

We are currently midway in the six-day cruise (26th of April to 2nd of May), and are presently to be found at 59°63,000 N, 04°42,000 E – there are mountains on one horizon, and open ocean on the other. After a night of muddy (clay-y) sampling, the majority of us are relaxing and eagerly awaiting lunch, whilst some of the sponge-folks are huddled inside the big, blue container on the deck, surveying the sea floor with the ROV Aglantha (occasionally cherry-picking sponges with fancy scoops).

The ROV Aglantha, inside the Blue Box, and sponge-capturing device

The ROV Aglantha, inside the Blue Box, and sponge-capturing device

At present we are at station #33; it has been three busy days so far! This is the first trip for all of us on the “new” R/V Kristine Bonnevie (formerly known as “Dr. Fritjof Nansen”, but that name has passed on to the new Nansen vessel), and we’re thoroughly enjoying it. The crew is amazing, the food is delicious, and the samples keep coming – what’s not to like? Even the weather has been good to us most of the time – though we have sprouted quite a crop of anti-seasickness patches onboard by now!

#bestoffice

#bestoffice

We had to take a break to admire this

We had to take a break to admire this

Shenanigans on deck

Shenanigans on deck

In addition to the ROV, we are using van Veen grabs, Agassiz trawl, plankton net, and RP-sledge to collect fauna. We also stumbled across hundreds of meters of lost fishing line when diving with Aglantha – the operators were able to catch an end of it, and it was dragged onboard to be discarded properly. The rope was heavily colonized by sponges, hydrozoa and mussels, so we got a “bonus sample” from that – and we got to clear away some marine pollution. Win/win!

Old Fishing line being removed - and samples taken from it!

Old Fishing line being removed – and samples taken from it!

My main incentive for being onboard is to secure ethanol-fixed (=suitable for DNA work) material from locations that we have either none or only formaldehyde fixed. This will then become part of the museum collections – and we will have fresh material for DNA barcoding through NorBOL.

Ready to dive in!

Ready to dive in!

The art of washing grab samples - get rid of the mud, keep the animals intact!

The art of washing grab samples – get rid of the mud, keep the animals intact!

Scooping up top sediment from grabs for analyses

Scooping up top sediment from grabs for analyses

Incoming trawl

Incoming trawl

Sampling in the sunset

Sampling in the sunset

The samples we are collecting are gently and carefully treated on deck before being bulk (i.e. unsorted) fixated in ethanol. There is lab space onboard, but we don’t have the time to do much sorting here. It will be exciting to see what we find once we get back to the lab and begin sorting it!

Lab facilities onboard

Lab facilities onboard

But before we get to that, we have three more days with SponGES, and then we go on to the next cruise, which will also be with Bonnevie – this time we’re heading up and into the Sognefjord.

Stay tuned for updates!

-Katrine

ps: SponGES’ facebook page is here

AmphipodThursday: IceAGE-amphipods in the Polish woods

img_2610This adventure started 26 years ago, when two Norwegian benthos researchers (Torleiv Brattegard from University of Bergen and Jon-Arne Sneli from the University in Trondheim) teamed up with three Icelandic benthos specialists (Jörundur Svavarsson and Guðmundur V. Helgasson from University of Iceland and Guðmundur Guðmundsson from the Natural History Museum of Iceland) to study the seas surrounding the volcanic home of the Nordic sages. 19 cruises and 13 years later – and not least lots of exciting scientific findings and results the BioICE program was finished.

But science never stops. New methods are developed and old methods are improved – and the samples that were stored in formalin during the BioICE project can not be used easily for any genetic studies. They are, however, very good for examinations of the morphology of the many invertebrate species that were collected, and they are still a source of much interesting science.

Participants of the IceAGE workshop. Photo: Christian Bomholt (www.instagram.com/mcb_pictures)

Participants of the IceAGE workshop. Photo: Christian Bomholt (www.instagram.com/mcb_pictures)

The dream about samples that could be DNA-barcoded (and possibly examined further with molecular methods) lead to a new project being formed – IceAGE. A large inernational collaboration of scientists organised by researchers from the University of Hamburg (and still including researchers from both the University of Iceland and the University of Bergen) have been on two cruises (2011 and 2013) so far – and there is already lots of material to look at!


This week many of the researchers connected with the IceAGE project have gathered in Spała in Poland – at a researchstation in woods that are rumoured to be inhabited by bison and beavers (we didn´t see any, but we have seen the results of the beavers work). Some of us have discussed theories and technical stuff for the papers and reports that are to come from the project, and then there are “the coolest gang” – the amphipodologists. 10 scientists of this special “species” have gathered in two small labs in the field-station, and we have sorted and identified amphipods into the wee hours.

It is both fun and educational to work together. Everybody have their special families they like best, and little tricks to identify the difficult taxa, and so there is always somebody to ask when you don´t find out what you are looking at. Between the stories about amphipod-friends and old times we have friendly fights about who can eat the most chocolate, and we build dreams about the perfect amphipodologist holiday. Every now and then somebody will say “come look at this amazing amphipod I have under my scope now!” – we have all been treated to species we have never seen before, but maybe read about. We also have a box of those special amphipods – the “possibly a new species”- tubes. When there is a nice sample to examine, you might hear one of the amphipodologist hum a happy song, and when the sample is all amphipods but no legs or antennae (this can happen to samples stored in ethanol – they become brittle) you might hear frustrated “hrmpfing” before the chocolate is raided.

 

Isopodologists (Martina and Jörundur) visiting the amphipodologists... Photo: AH Tandberg

Isopodologists (Martina and Jörundur) visiting the amphipodologists… Photo: AH Tandberg

The samples from IceAGE are all stored in ethanol. This is done to preserve the DNA for molecular studies – studies that can give us new and exciting results to questions we have thought about for a long time, and to questions we maybe didn´t even know we needed asking. We can test if what looks like the same species really is the same species, and we can find out more about the biogeography of the different species and communities.

The geographical area covered by IceAGE borders to the geographical area covered by NorAmph and NorBOL, and it makes great sense to collaborate. This summer we will start with comparing DNA-barcodes of amphipods from the family Eusiridae from IceAGE and NorAmph. They are as good a starting-point as any, and they are beautiful (Eusirus holmii was described in the norwegian blog last summer).


Happy easter from all the amphiods and amphipodologists!

Anne Helene


Literature:

Brix S (2014) The IceAGE project – a follow up of BIOICE. Polish Polar Research 35, 1-10

Dauvin J−C, Alizier S, Weppe A, Guðmundsson G (2012) Diversity and zoogeography of Ice−
landic deep−sea Ampeliscidae (Crustacea: Amphipoda). Deep Sea Research Part I: 68: 12–23.

Svavarsson J (1994) Rannsóknir á hryggleysingjum botns umhverfis Ísland. Íslendingar og hafiđ.
Vísindafélag Íslendinga, Ráđstefnurit 4: 59–74.
Svavarsson J, Strömberg J−O,  Brattegard T (1993) The deep−sea asellote (Isopoda,
Crustacea) fauna of the Northern Seas: species composition, distributional patterns and origin. Journal of Biogeography 20: 537–555.

Door #22 A jolly, happy family?

Musculus discors hidden in Securiflustra securifrons. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Musculus discors hidden in Securiflustra securifrons. Photo: AHS Tandberg

At first glance, it can look like a seaweed. The depth, however, should start your alarm-bells for flora and point you towards fauna: the plantlike animal Securiflustra securifrons (Pallas, 1766) is a bryozoa – a collection of colonial filterfeeders less than 1 mm in size each. We are at 80-120 m depth in the cold Heleysundet – the sound between the two islands Spitsbergen and Barents Island in the eastern part of the Svalbard Archipelago. This is a sound famous among captains for its fast tidal streams, and the fast-flowing waters give the bryozoans a nice place to live. The colonies branch out to catch the most water-flow and the most food from the water.

Musculus discors. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Musculus discors. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Where the “branches”  form we see what might look like small hairy balls – these are the bivalve Musculus discors (L., 1767). The hairy look comes from their byssus threads – they produce and then use these threads to attach to the Securiflustra (and being packed in the threads they might get some camouflage from them).

 

Moving inside the molluscs we might find not only one, but two species of amphipods. In our samples from Heleysundet 14% of the Musculus had the carnivorous amphipod Anonyx nugax Ohlin, 1895 inside, and an astonishing 3 out of 4 Musculus had amphipods of the species Metopa glacialis (Krøyer, 1842) inside.  The system resembles a Russian doll – one species living inside another living inside yet another…

Anonyx affinis (large amphipod, upper left) and Metopa glacialis (small amphipod lower half og mussel) innside a Musculus discors. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Anonyx affinis (large amphipod, upper left) and Metopa glacialis (small amphipod lower half og mussel) innside a Musculus discors. Photo: AHS Tandberg

What reason can a small crustacean have to live inside the quite closed off world of a bivalve? The bivalve filters water actively – it pumps water over its gills, and then transports food-particles such as phytoplankton down the gills towards its mouth. Non-desirable particles are normally packed into mucus and transported out of the bivalve. Now imagine liking to eat some of those particles the bivalve finds non-desirable, and being placed on the gills of said bivalve. No need to hunt for the food – it will be coming on the conveyor-belt the gills are – and all you need to do is to eat. The bivalve does not seem to be troubled by this co-habitant – it does not eat the same food as the bivalve.

Not only does Musculus discors provide Metopa glacialis with food, the mantle cavity provides a luxury-shelter where the amphipod can raise a family! Amphipods, together with isopods, cumaceans, tanaidaeans and quite a few mysicadeans keep their offspring in a brood-pouch from the fertilisation of the eggs to the medium sized juveniles crawl out into the real world. Living inside a bivalve allows Metopa glacials to extend its child-care to young life outside the brood-pouch. Our examinations of the bivalves from Heleysundet showed us adult Metopa in the middle of the bivalve, with several juveniles “strategically placed” inbetween the two layers of gills in each shell-half. Surrounded by food, safe from most predators! (Predation of Metopa glacialis might be the main objective for Anonyx affinis, the food-source of the lysianassid needs to be established. It might also be the nice and fatty mollusk.)

 

Metopa glacialis innside a Musculus discors. Small arrows point to juveniles, large arrow to adult female. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Metopa glacialis innside a Musculus discors. Small arrows point to juveniles, large arrow to adult female. Photo: AHS Tandberg

Comparing with amphipods of the same size-range from the same areas, Metopa glacialis seems to have a safe life. Safe enough that they can manage to have several sets of offspring. We see that they don´t wait until´the first batch of kids are out of the “house” – we found one adult female with two size-groups of offspring and a fresh egg-filled brood-pouch!  Each batch can be 20 offspring, so that would mean one pregnant mom and 40 kids in one small house!

 

Many people travel to visit family during the holidays. Even when we cherish the time with our loved ones, filling the house with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins might cramp everybodys style slightly. Not so with Metopa glacialis. Measuring the size of all inhabitants show us that the kids stay home until they are adult and can move out to their own home. So when you can´t sleep because your younger cousin plays on her gamer all night, or because your old aunt snores when you come into your shared room, think how much more difficult life could have been if you were an amphipod. Happy holidays!

Anne Helene

PS: A slightly extended version in Norwegian (part of the TangloppeTorsdag blog) can be read here)


Literature:

Just J (1983) Anonyx affinis (Crust., Amphipoda: Lysianassidae), commensal in the bivalve Musculus laevigatus, with notes on Metopa glacialis (Amphipoda: Stenothoidae). Astarte 12, 69-74

Tandberg AHS, Schander C, Pleijel F (2010) First record of the association between the amphipod Metopa alderii and the bivalve Musculus. Marine Biodiversity Records 3:e5 doi:10.1017/S1755267209991102

Tandberg AHS, Vader W, Berge J (2010) Studies on the association of Metopa glacialis (Amphipoda, Crustacea) and Musculus discors (Mollusca, Mytilidae). Polar Biology 33, 1407-1418

Vader W, Beehler CL (1983) Metopa glacialis (Amphipoda, Stenothoidae) in the Barents and Beaufort Seas, and its association with the lamellibranchs Musculus niger and M. discors s. l. Astarte 12:57–61