Tag Archives: artsprosjekt

Why study boring amphipoda and other strange taxa?

Bircenna thieli seen from the front and the side. SEM photo, Fig 6 in Hughes and Lörz, 2019.

This question (or a version of it) is something a lot of us taxonomists are faced with quite often when we try to explain what we do for a living. And I do understand the need to ask – couldn´t our talents be used better doing something it might be easier to understand the use of? We think the study of taxonomy is higly important, and does bring about useful knowledge for the world. Therefore, we have several taxonomic projects in our group, and we write about them here in the blog. (If you read norwegian, you can read about our projects here)

 

March 19th was the world Taxonomist Appreciation Day – a day we have “celebrated” since 2013. Why do we need this day? Taxonomy is the science of naming, defining, describing, cataloguing, identifying and classifying groups of biological organisms. We do this in labs and on fieldwork, and the natural history museums (these days represented from our home offices) have a special responsibility for this work, since one part of the formal description of a taxon is to designate a type and store that in a museum collection. We will come back to the importance of types in a later blog here.

Terry McGlynn, the professor and blogger who initiated the Taxonomist Appreciation Day wrote: ” I want to declare a new holiday! If you’re a biologist, no matter what kind of work you do, there are people in your lives that have made your work possible. Even if you’re working on a single-species system, or are a theoretician, the discoveries and methods of systematists are the basis of your work. Long before mass sequencing or the emergence of proteomics, and other stuff like that, the foundations of bioinformatics were laid by systematists. We need active work on taxonomy and systematics if our work is going to progress, and if we are to apply our findings. Without taxonomists, entire fields wouldn’t exist. We’d be working in darkness.”

Every year a large number of new taxa are described – last year almost 2000 of the new species described were marine. March 19th every year, the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and LifeWatch publish their favourite 10 marine species described in the previous year, and this year – corona-shutdown and all – was no exception.

All ten new species are fun, beautiful and remarkable – but Polyplacotoma mediterranea Osigus & Schierwater, 2019 deserves special mentioning. P. mediterranea is the third species described ever in the phylum Placozoa – who are viewed as one of the key-taxa to understand early animal evolution. They were first described in 1883 (by Schulze), and the name Placozoa indicated what they looked like: small (around 1 mm for the largest of the specimens) platelike animals. 2018 saw the second species of placozoans described – genetically, as it was impossible to separate morphologically – but then our new placozoan came – and it is 10mm large, is branched, and has its natural habitat in the mediterranean intertidal! Phylum Placozoa will never be the same again, and our understanding of the early evolution of animals has become even more interesting.

 

What then about the boring amphipods? Or course they are not boring as in saying they are dull! The “boring amphipod” Bircenna thieli Hughes & Lörz, 2019 bores in the sense that they excavate tunnels into the stem of the common bull kelp Durvillaea potatorum (Labillardière) Areschoug, 1854 in the intertidal and shallow waters by Tasmania.

Bircenna thieli has a head almost like an ant, and a quite unusual shape of its back-body. Fig 8 from Hughes and Lörz, 2019

Their head has an ant-like ball-shape unlike many other amphipods where the head is more ornate or has a visible rostrum, but the exciting morphology comes at the other end of the animal – where the telson and last segment have structures never seen before in amphipods, and structures that only other vegetation-boring amphipods show.

So why do we think describing tiny animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and other organisms is so important? Let us ask you back: how can you appreciate what you have and care about what might be lost if you dont know who they are?

Anne Helene

(this post was written March 19th, but posted later..)


Literature:
Eitel M, Osigus H-J, DeSalle R, Schierwater B (2013) Global Diversity of the Placozoa. PLoS ONE 8(4): e57131. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057131

Hughes, L.E.; Lörz, A.-N. (2019). Boring Amphipods from Tasmania, Australia (Eophliantidae: Amphipoda: Crustacea). Evolutionary Systematics 3(1): 41-52. https://doi.org/10.3897/evolsyst.3.35340

Osigus, H.-J.; Rolfes, S.; Herzog, R.; Kamm, K.; Schierwater, B. (2019). Polyplacotoma mediterranea is a new ramified placozoan species. Current Biology 29(5): R148-R149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.068


Do you want to find out more about Taxonomist Appreciation Day or about all the 10 exciting species?

Ten remarkable new marine species from 2019

Today is Taxonomist Appreciation Day!

A compendium of taxonomists on ORCID

and not least –  you can still follow the #TaxonomistAppreciationDay on Twitter (and be prepared for 2021!)

Field season’s end

Sletvik field station, October 15th-23rd 2019

We wanted to make a write-up of the last combined fieldwork/workshop we had in 2019, which was a trip to the marine field station of NTNU, Sletvik in Trøndelag, in late October. From Bergen, Luis (NorHydro), Jon, Tom, and Katrine (Hardbunnsfauna) stuffed a car full of material, microscopes, and drove the ~12 hours up to the field station that we last visited in 2016.Beautiful fall in Trøndelag

There we joined up with Torkild, Aina, Karstein, and Tuva from NTNU university museum, students August and Marte, and Eivind from NIVA. We also had some visitors; Hauk and Stine from Artsdatabanken came by to visit (if you read Norwegian, there’s a feature about it here), and Per Gätzschmann from NTNU UM dropped by for a day to photograph people in the field.

Most of the workshop participants lined up Photo: Hauk Liebe, Artsdatabanken

During a productive week the plan was to work through as much as possible of the material that we and our collaborators had collected from Kristiansand in the South to Svalbard in the North. Some of us went out every day to collect fresh material in the field close to the station.The Artsprosjekts #Sneglebuss, Hardbunnsfauna, NorHydro, and PolyPort gathered at Sletvik, and with that also the University museums of Trondheim and Bergen. Of course we were also collecting for the other projects, and the museum collections.

One of the things Hardbunnsfauna wanted to do whilst in Sletvik was to pick out interesting specimens to submit for DNA barcoding. This means that the animals need to be sorted from the sediment, the specimens identified, and the ones destined to become barcode vouchers must be photographed and tissue sampled, and the data uploaded to the BOLD database. We managed to complete three plates of gastropods, select specimens for one with bivalves, and begin on a plate of echinoderms, as well as sort through and select quite a few crustaceans and ascidians for further study.

Collecting some fresh material was particularly important for NorHydro because the hydroids from the coasts of Trøndelag have not been thoroughly studied in recent years, and therefore we expected some interesting findings in the six sites we managed to sample. We selected over 40 hydrozoan specimens for DNA barcoding, including some common and widespread hydroids (e.g. Dynamena pumila), some locally abundant species (e.g. Sarsia lovenii) and exceptionally rare taxa, such as the northernmost record ever for a crawling medusa (Eleutheria dichotoma). We also used a small plankton net to catch some of the local hydromedusae, and found many baby jellyfish belonging to genus Clytia swimming around the field station.

Plan B when the animals (in this case Leuckartiara octona) won’t cooperate and be documented with the fancy camera; bring out the cell phones!

It was a busy week, but combining several projects, bringing together material spanning all of Norway, and working together like this made it extremely productive!

Thank you  very much to all the participants, and to all the people who have helped us gather material so far!

-Katrine & Luis

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!

Fieldwork and friendship!

Drøbak 6th till 15th of May 2018

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

Sea slugs of Norway, a love story

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

Caronella pellucida, photographed by Anders Schouw

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

The citizens that are scientists

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

Back to Drøbak

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

Manuel Malaquias with Tine Kinn Kvamme

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

Tine’s sea slug species check list for the area

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

Doto fragilis

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

Anders Schouw showing his photography skills in the laboratory

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

Fjordia lineata photographed by Nils Aukan

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

The gate to grass

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

Heine Jensen with Manuel Malaquias

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

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

Facelina bostoniensis on sea grass photographed by Anders Schouw

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

You reap what you sow

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

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

Acknowledgments

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

By Cessa Rauch and Manuel Malaquias

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

Meeting a famous gelatinous neighbour: Bathykorus bouilloni

Every now and then, a hydrozoan species will make the headlines because of the problems it creates for humans in a particular location. Hydrozoan jellyfish may bloom unexpectedly, transforming the water into a gelatinous soup, stinging people and fish in the process, while some hydroids have a tendency togrow  massively in places where they are not wanted. There are others that end up in the news because they produce some unusual protein, or have a peculiar life cycle that could lead to important findings in the fields of medicine or ecology.

Then there is Bathykorus bouilloni, a hydrozoan jelly that has gotten some media attention due to its resemblance to an extremely famous movie character.

This is the original photograph by of a live specimen included in the description of the species, next to a pic of its look-alike. Photo of the jelly: Kevin Raskoff

This is the original photograph of a live specimen included in the description of the species, next to a pic of its look-alike. Photo of the jelly: Kevin Raskoff

This jellyfish was described in 2010 by Dr. Kevin Raskoff, who gave it its appropriate name. Bathykorus is a combination of Bathy (from bathus, meaning depth or deep in Greek) and korus (also from Greek, meaning helmet), and it refers to the deep-sea habitat of the species, as well as to the helmet-like shape of the bell (like that of an intergalactic villain). The word bouilloni in the name of this critter is a tribute to Dr. Jean Bouillon (1926-2009), one of the most prolific authors in Hydrozoan biology in the 20th century.

The species has been known to science only for some years, and indeed very few people may have seen it alive, but this does not necessarily mean that it is an uncommon animal: in fact, it may be extremely abundant in some places and is perhaps one of the most common species living at certain depths in the Central Arctic Ocean.

Caption: the peach-coloured spots in this medusa are most likely the remnants of its last meal. Photo: Aino Hosia

The peach-coloured spots in this medusa are most likely the remnants of its last meal. Photo: Aino Hosia

The wide circular mouth of this animal (a characteristic shared with many other jellyfish in the Order Narcomedusae) is best seen from above. Photo: Aino Hosia

The wide circular mouth of this animal (a characteristic shared with many other jellyfish in the Order Narcomedusae) is best seen from above. Photo: Aino Hosia

We at the HYPNO project are happy to have found this charismatic species off Svalbard, and even more so when it was possible to barcode it through NorBOL!

-Luis


References

Antsulevich, A. E. (2015). Biogeographic and faunistic division of the Eurasian Polar Ocean based on distributions of Hydrozoa (Cnidaria). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 95(08): 1533-1539.

Raskoff, K. A. (2010). Bathykorus bouilloni: a new genus and species of deep-sea jellyfish from the Arctic Ocean (Hydrozoa, Narcomedusae, Aeginidae). Zootaxa 2361(1): 57-67.

Sognefjorden cruise May 2017

After our week with SponGES on R/V Bonnevie, Luis and I had a night back in Bergen before we headed out on our second spring adventure: a four day cruise (still onboard Bonnevie) of Sognefjorden, the longest (205 km) and (deepest 1308 m) fjord in Norway.

The cruise, led by Prof. Henrik Glenner from the Institute of Biology, UoB,  was a multi-purpose one, with the majority of the projects being linked to the Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (Artsprosjekt):

We collected material for the ongoing project that is investigating and mapping the barnacle fauna (Crustacea: Cirripedia) in Norway, which a special focus on the strange, parasitic barnacle Anelasma squalicola that is found on the shark Etmopterus spinax (velvet bellied lantern shark/svarthå).

The material we collected will also serve as an addendum to the project on Species inventory and nature type mapping of Sognefjorden, which was recently concluded.

As for the University Museum, Luis was onboard collecting pelagic and benthic Hydrozoa for the HYPNO-project, whilst I was on the hunt for more species for DNA-barcoding through NorBOL (the Norwegian Barcode of Life). We have also re-sampled some polychaete type localities from the 1970’s, and attempted to retrieve more material from stations where we have found new species in more recent material (we need more specimens before we can formally describe them).

In addition, we had two Danish researchers onboard that were studying the bioluminescence and eye development of the starfish family Brisingidae. The story told in images:

We should maybe also add "one of the most gorgeous" to the description of the fjord

We should maybe also add “one of the most gorgeous” to the description of the fjord

Velvet belly lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax

Velvet belly lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax

Henrik and Christoph sorting a shrimp trawl catch on deck

Henrik and Christoph sorting a shrimp trawl catch on deck

Eager pickings in the trawl catch

Eager pickings in the trawl catch

Not all trawl samples go according to plan... this one, taken in the open sea, ended up sampling *a bit* deeper than intended, so we got a lot of benthic animals - and mud. So. much. mud.

Not all trawl samples go according to plan… this one, taken in the open sea, ended up sampling *a bit* deeper than intended, so we got a lot of benthic animals – and mud. So. much. mud.

Most novel sampling gear yet? Collecting velvet belly lanternshark by monkfish!

Most novel sampling gear yet? Collecting velvet belly lanternshark by monkfish! (caught in the “benthic” trawl)

The brisinga sea stars are very fragile - and live deep down.

The brisinga sea stars are very fragile – and live deep down.

We amanged to get some not-too-damaged specimens with a small trawl

We manged to get some not-too-damaged specimens with a small trawl

The plankton net going our for collecting

The plankton net going our for collecting

Luis an Marie studying a plankton sample

Luis an Marie studying a plankton sample

Plankton

Plankton

For some reason, my samples seems to involve inordinate amounts of mud - good thing I had good helpers to work through it all!

For some reason, my samples seems to involve inordinate amounts of mud – good thing I had good helpers to work through it all!

Cruising in a postcard!

Cruising in a postcard!

Sadly, plastic pollution was prevalent in Sognefjorden as well - here's a soda bottle from a sample taken at 911 m depth

Sadly, plastic pollution was prevalent in Sognefjorden as well – here’s a soda bottle from a sample taken at 911 m depth

And here are som eof the plastic that we ended up with from our sampling, most of it from over 1000 meters depth.

Here is some of the plastic that we ended up with from our sampling, most of it recovered from over 1000 meters depth.

Our final night of the cruise was spent in the mud and the sunset - it's starting to become a recurring theme!

Our final night of the cruise was spent in the mud and the sunset – it’s starting to become a recurring theme!

Once again, thank you so much to the crew on Bonnevie for all their help!

Once again, thank you so much to the crew on Bonnevie for all their help!

-Katrine

Door # 6: Stuffed Syllid

Todays calendar critter is a Trypanosyllis sp. – a undescribed species from the genera Trypanosyllis in the family Syllidae. It most closely resembles a species described from the Mediterranean Sea. The Norwegian species is common in coral rubble, and has been assumed to be the same species as the one described from the Mediterranean. Genetic work reveals that these two are in fact separate species, and thus the Norwegian one is a new species awaiting formal description and naming. (If you read Norwegian, you can learn more about how species are described and named here: Slik gir vi navn til nye arter).

A new species of Trypanosyllis, collected in Sletvik, Norway. Photo by Arne Nygren. CC-by-sa

A new species of Trypanosyllis, collected in Sletvik, Norway. Photo by Arne Nygren. CC-by-sa

This specimen was collected, identified and photographed by Arne Nygren during our field work in Sletvik as part of his work on cryptic polychate species in Norway.

Syllids have opted for a rather fascinating way of ensuring high fertilization rates; something called epitoky: they asexually produce a special individual – the epitokous individual – from their bodies, and release this to go swimming in search of a mate. In the photo you can see that the female reproductive body (epitoke) is filled with orange eggs and has its own set of eyes, close to the middle of the animal. This section will break away from the mother animal and swim away in search of a male reproductive body to reproduce with. The mother animal will then grow a new female reproductive body.

-Arne & Katrine

Thursday Amphipod — Norwegian Marine Amphipoda

Amphipoda is an order of mainly small crustaceans living in the ocean, in lakes and rivers, in caves and in moist soil. They can be found worldwide, and the last count in the marine speciesdatabase WoRMS gives about 9 800 valid species. Most of the amphipod species are marine, with again most species connected to the sea-floor (benthic) – even if one of the suborders entirely lives in the watercolumn (pelagic).

The Norwegian Species-name List includes 561 amphipods in Norway, and the most recent listing of amphipods in the North-East Atlantic includes 850 species (Vader, 2007). How many amphipod species that do live in Norwegian waters is probably somewhere between these two numbers.

A collection of Norwegian Amphipoda. Photo: Katrine Kongshavn

A collection of Norwegian Amphipoda. Photo: Katrine Kongshavn

The Norwegian Species Initiative funded project “Norwegian Marine Amphipoda” (NorAmph) starting these days at the Universitymuseum has as one of its objectives to produce a better overview of what species are present in Norwegian marine waters. Utilising material from large projects such as MAREANO and GeoBio, from field-cruises with UNIS and not least the wonderful wealth of the Natural History Collections of the Universitymuseum of Bergen we hope to be able to give an answer to the question.

When a new species of any animal is described, it is mostly done on the basis of its morphology (how it looks). Lately we also add information about a small and species-specific part of the DNA, but for most species this is informations we don´t have yet. The project Barcode of Life aims to map this small part of every species´ DNA  as a tool for later identification – like the barcodes that are used in shops. Norway is participating in this project through the national node NorBOL – and another of the objectives of the NorAmph project is to try to DNA-barcode as many of the norwegian marine amphipod-species as possible. You can read more about the NorBOL work at our invertebrate lab here at her museum here.

One very important part of the NorAmph project is to present the amphipods to all you not working on this fascinating group. Maybe you played with sandhoppers during a beach-holiday, or hunted for sideswimmers under the cobbles on a rocky shore? You might even have been flyfishing with a “Gammarus”-fly? Follow our “TangloppeTorsdag” (in Norwegian) or ThursdayAmphipod (in English) tag. Everything we post under this project will be collected under the category “NorAmph”.

Anne Helene

Literature:
Vader, W. 2007 A checklist of the Marine Amphipoda of the North-East Atlantic and Norwegian Arctic. Published on Tromsø Amphipod Webpage