I just photographed some specimens from the family Scyllaridae, and they are such funny looking critters that I decide to share them on the blog. The Scyllaridae are found in all warm oceans and seas, and typically live from shallow water and down to depths of about 500 m (according to Wikipedia).
Scyllarus carpati from Mauritania
Pictured is a Scyllarus carpati from Mauritania, collected by sledge at 100 meters.
If you click here, you can se the distribution of the species, as well as its IUCN Red List status. We will take tissue samples from this specimen and send it for COI DNA barcoding, which will be incorporated in the BOLD database. There are records of specimens from the same genus recorded in BOLD already, but none of this particular species, as you can see if you search for Scyllarus carpati here.
For your positive attitude, willingness to work long hours in the lab, cooking of delicious food, and sharing of many laughs and much knowledge!
The crustacea work-group focused particularly on crabs and shrimps. Some of the hermit crabs, a particularly difficult group, were also identified to species. A few species of squat lobsters, slipper lobsters, and five species of mantis shrimp were also identified. Three 95 sample plates were prepared for DNA-barcoding.
The mollusca work-group identified more than 200 species of snails (Gastropoda) in the material. They took 1763 digital images and prepared 606 lots for the catalogued museum collection. At present, one sample plate has been prepared for DNA-barcoding.
A species of bristle worms (Polychaeta) in a genus that has not previously been found in West Africa.
The workshop identified about 140 species of Polychaeta.At least 12 of the species are clearly new to science. Five genera that have not been recoded from African waters were also identified. 385 specimens were selected for DNA-barcoding.
We’re nearing the end of our two weeks here at the research station, but work is still continuing at full speed. Below are some snapshots from life in the lab.
Science in action
Sakaila africana was recognized as a new species by Raymond B. Manning and L.B. Holthuis in 1981. Their publication in The Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology is an important source to the identification of West African crabs. An electronic version of the publication is available on this link. Our workshop found Sakaila africana in samples from Guinea Conakry.
On 10th July, the workshop was visited by guests from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research who are doing field work in Africa from R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen. Tor Ensrud gave a presentation of monitoring activities performed from the Nansen in Ghanaean waters. He showed pictures and impressive video clips from the prototype of a sampling rig equipped with ROV and 3-5 grabs. Some of the pictures can be seen at the IMR website.
Environmental monitoring in Ghana
One of the topics covered in depth during the workshop is the selection of specimens and the preparation of tissue-samples. These will to be sent for DNA sequencing, and the genetic sequence will then be included in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). The aim is to obtain standardized genetic sequences (“barcodes”) for the various taxa that we are working on. The barcode consists of a segment of approximately 650 base pairs of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase c subunit 1 (COI). You can read more about DNA barcoding on WIKIPEDIA.
There is a very real challenge connected with estimating biodiversity when many of the species are still undescribed, as is the case with many invertebrate species, especially the more obscure and diminutive groups. In such cases, barcoding can serve as a tool in screening for biodiversity, and aid the taxonomists in identifying areas where the taxonomic resolution is low.
We have not yet received any barcodes for our MIWA project, but the project page on BOLD is getting populated with images and geographical information.
Brittle star image gallery
Crab image gallery
This picture shows a plot of crab species that have been DNA barcoded around the World. Notice the lack of records from West African waters.
This picture shows how we are presently about to add records of about 60 crab species to the BOLD database.
How is it that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can make numbers of copies of a piece of DNA? (Slide from an intro to the technology of PCR and Sanger sequencing given by EW.)
Lecture about the procedure for tissue sampling and recording of data for the BOLD system
The specimens from which we take the DNA tissue sample is documented through photographs
A completed microplate with 95 tissue samples
On Wednesday, the group working on the Polychaeta (bristle worms) went to the city for a practical demonstation of one of the tools we are fortunate enough to have available here in Bergen; the ZEISS Supra 55VP scanning electron microscope at the Laboratory for Electron Microscopy.
The use of SEM gives us a unique possibility to examine details that are too small to be seen (or at least to be seen clearly) in a light microscope. It is possible to take high resolution photographs through the SEM, which can be used both for personal reference, and as illustrations in scientific publications.
The anterior region of a Hyalinoecia sp. (family Onuphidae)
The different kinds of bristles and their distribution along the animal’s body are important characteristics in polychaete taxonomy.