Category Archives: workshop

Preparing plates

Today, the mail brought us this:

New plates for tissue samples!

New plates for tissue samples!

A good thing too, as we were running out of plates to fill. We are currently busy preparing four (possibly five) plates of material from the west coast of Africa.

There will be one plate of Amphipoda, which we have not submitted from this region previously (resulting from the workshop that Anne Helene and Ania had in December).

The remainder of the shipment will be polychaetes that have been identified both by our resident taxonomists and the guests that came here to work on the material over the past couple of months; São, Julio, Kate, and –most recently – Mario.

Mario at work in the lab

Mario at work in the lab

Mario arrived here on the 4th of January, and stayed for a month – we’ll make a proper post about his work here in a bit (he is currently on his way to field work in the Antarctic, but has promised a post later on). His main field of interest are Terebellomorph polychaetes, and he focussed especially on the genus Pista during his stay.

So now we are working on organizing, photographing, cataloguing and otherwise preparing the material – our guest have been busy, so there is a wealth of new data to deal with.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Tom taking tissue samples for two plates of Ampharetidae and other Terebellomorph polychaetes

Tom taking tissue samples for two plates of Ampharetidae and other Terebellomorph polychaetes

Photos and data entry

Photos and data entry

We have new guests arriving in a few days; there’s plenty to do. Stay tuned for updates!

Let’s hope for successful sequencing and many interesting results!

PS: make sure to check invertebrate.b.uib.no this Friday (the 12th) for some Biodiversity Love; the JRS Biodiversity Foundation has asked us to

Please share your love of biodiversity this Valentine’s Day with the hashtag #bdvalentine. Have fun and help raise awareness of biodiversity and conservation!  This is a chance to draw your audience to your social media and to express appreciation for your partners, grantees, collaborators, or someone you love.”

We are joining in, don’t miss out!

#bdvalentine

Guest Researchers: Kate

Collecting Magelona samples on my favourite sampling beach, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. A beach known to many polychaetologists through the work of naturalist George Johnston.

Collecting Magelona samples on my favourite sampling beach, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. A beach known to many polychaetologists through the work of naturalist George Johnston.

Earlier this month we had a visit from Kate Mortimer from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. In her own words:

Magelonid polychaetes – Shovelhead worms

7th – 15th November

I have been specialising in the taxonomy of magelonid polychaetes for the last 15 years, particularly the investigation of species from Europe and the Indian Ocean. More recently I have been additionally studying the behaviour and functional morphology of this fascinating group.

 

 

 

Making drawings of specimens from the MIWA project back at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

Making drawings of specimens from the MIWA project back at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

Discussions with Jon Anders Kongsrud at the University Museum of Bergen (UMB) started at the International Polychaete Conference in Lecce 2010 about the MIWA-Project and the magelonid species off West Africa. I started work investigating the magelonid specimens from the MIWA-project back in 2013. Early investigation work suggested the possibility of up to 16 putative species from the samples, which potentially included several species new to science. So the work began, on the lengthy process of drawing, describing and imaging each individual species back at the National Museum Wales, in Cardiff.

 

 

Imaging a Magelona

Imaging a Magelona, this specimen has a distinct thoracic pigment band

Whilst work continued looking at the morphology of these specimens it was decided that it would be prudent to come to the University Museum of Bergen to look at additional magelonid specimens from further MIWA samples, in order to select samples for DNA sequencing. The week would further cement morphological descriptions and to search for additional material of the rarer species within samples. So in November I took the trip to Bergen, leaving a wet and windy Cardiff behind and arriving in an equally wet and windy city!

After a week in the lab, over 100 vials of specimens and over 800 specimens have been studied. A further four potential species have been identified and the material is now ready for tissue sampling and photographing before the material is sent off to Canada for sequencing.

Working in the lab

Working in the lab

Magelonid samples processed and identified, awaiting sequencing.

Magelonid samples processed and identified, awaiting sequencing.

It has been a successful week, and I am very much looking forward to comparing the results from the sequencing to the morphology of these animals. Meanwhile back in Cardiff, we have selected specimens of similar British species for comparison to the West African material and Norwegian species.

Many thanks to all at the Museum for making me feel so welcome in Bergen. I very much look forward to collaborating with you on this project and look forward to some fascinating and interesting results from the project.

Studies of Hydrozoa

hydro_peopleThe first weeks of July have been dedicated to the collections of Hydrozoa.  Although the species that is presently  known as Sarsia tubulosa has been almost a totem animal to marine biologists in Bergen since Michael Sars’ pioneering studies of cnidarians and other invertebrates on the Bergen coast, this taxonomically complex group has received relatively limited attention from local students.
We are very pleased therefore that Professor Francesco Ramil Blanco and his PhD-student Marta Gil from the University of Vigo are taking the time to examine some of our material  of benthic hydrozoans. Benthic hydrozoans are sitting on various forms of substrate like sand, stones or dead shells. But many are also epibionts, which means that they are attached to other organisms such as algae, crustaceans or even other hydrozoans.

Front end of a Hyas crab carrying Hydrozoa and other organisms.

Front end of a Hyas crab carrying Hydrozoa and other organisms.

The alternation of generations between polyp and medusa stages, one of M.Sars’  discoveries, is just one of the reasons why these small cnidarians, the more inclusive group that the hydrozoans belong to, have been taxonomically challenging. There are many examples of such different life history stages having been described over time as different species.  But there are also other reasons as to why hydrozoans should be studied more thoroughly. Access to new material, better microscopes and molecular techniques are giving researchers new possibilities to assess the diversity of these strange animals.

Specimens of Hydrozoa are mounted in resinous medium for microscopy.

Specimens of Hydrozoa are mounted in resinous medium for microscopy.

Slides for microscopy

Slides for microscopy

 

Streptocaulus dollfusi2

Streptocaulus dollfusi – microscopy picture of part of a colony from West Africa identified by Ramil and Gil.

Hydrozoa_studies

Team work in an enlarged micro-world

Starstruck

Following the workshop on the brittle stars – the Ophiuroidea – that we arranged earlier this fall, we have a lot of samples that have been selected for DNA barcoding. These are in the pipeline for photographing, and the photographer is currently seeing stars…

Below is a sample of the animals, each animal is photographed twice; dorsal and ventral view.

Brittle stars

Brittle stars en masse – we plan on filling two plates this time around, so in total there will be 380 photograps.

Twinkle, twinkle, brittle star. How I wonder what you are –

The brittle stars are a fascinating group of animals with about 2000 known species. Quite a few species have been identified from the MIWA material and we are trying to compare the African shelf fauna with that of the northern Atlantic. Initial DNA-barcoding has returned some puzzling results and we needed another look on some of the problematic individuals. Fortunately, two researchers with very special knowledge of the brittle stars were able to join us in an identification workshop during the last week of November.
Øyidis Alme did her master study on brittle stars and she was joined by Sabine Stöhr from the Natural History Museum of Stockholm for a three days session over the microscopes. Sabine is a respected specialist on the brittle stars and maintains The World Ophiuroidea Database:

http://www.marinespecies.org/ophiuroidea/index.php

Samples to be checked

Unravelling the diversity of Bivalve Molluscs of Western Africa

Tellina (Oudardia) compressa

Tellina (Oudardia) compressa

Venus verrucosa

Venus verrucosa

The study of the marine invertebrates of West Africa collected during the “Nansen Project” goes on and this year a second workshop was organized with a focus on the taxonomy of bivalves. Nine days of seclusion in our marine station at Espegrend on the surroundings of the city of Bergen allowed for the necessary tranquility to concentrate in the laborious work of sorting through and identifying thousands of specimens collected between Morocco and Angola by the Norwegian research vessel Dr. Fridtjof Nansen.

Abra alba

Abra alba

This year the “Molluscan” team was strengthen with two extra players; Sara Castillo, a PhD student from Spain enrolled at the University of Vigo and working on the marine fauna of Mauritania and Rudo von Cosel from the Paris Museum of Natural History a recognized authority on the taxonomy of bivalve molluscs.

 

 

Aequipecten flabellum

Aequipecten flabellum

Atrina chautardi

Atrina chautardi

Corbula cadenati

Corbula cadenati

During last year workshop we have implemented a successful “conveyor-belt operation” where each of us was responsible for a specific task (identification, labelling, databasing, imaging, barcoding, etc.). The samples were first organized by morphotypes and then passed into the hands and eyes of our taxonomic experts; a new label with a museum voucher number, species name, locality, etc., was added, and the samples were then databased, photographed, and some selected for DNA barcoding. In parallel several invited participants received training in the various technical and scientific aspects of this operation.

 

 

Cuspidaria cuspidata

Cuspidaria cuspidata

Falsolucinoma leloeuffi

Falsolucinoma leloeuffi

This year we have again implemented the same successful strategy; Lena Ohnheiser (University Museum of Bergen) was responsible for the database, labelling, and “in between” automontage imaging, Rudo von Cosel, José Pedro Borges (Portuguese Institute of Malacology), Kouakou Kouadio (University of Nangui Abrogoua, Côte d’Ivoire), Sidi Moctar (Institut Mauritanien de Recherches Océanographiques et des Pêches), and Sara Castillo for the taxonomic identification, and the author of these lines was the responsible for general imaging of the specimens and overall coordination of the team-work. In parallel Trond Oskars (a PhD student at the University Museum of Bergen) and Endre Willassen (PI of the Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa project) have worked on the preparation of 95 samples for DNA barcoding.

Gari fervensis

Gari fervensis

Laevicardium senegalensis

Laevicardium senegalensis

Noetiella congoensis

Noetiella congoensis

Our colleague Rudo von Cosel has been working for more than 10 years on a comprehensive book about the bivalves from tropical western Africa.

Rudo brought the proofs of his book to the workshop and we can proudly claim to have been the first ones to have ever seen his book assembled! The species illustrations and descriptions were bind together by families and used as identification tools during the workshop. At the end of the week we have databased over 800 lots and identified approximately 125 species. It was very rewarding to realize that our joint effort rendered many new geographical records contributing to better understand the distribution of species and biogeographic processes along the coast of West Africa.

 

We are very thankful to all participants in the workshop; to all those mentioned along these lines and those who were not but were nonetheless crucial for the success of this very productive week helping with various technical and logistic aspects, contributing to the good atmosphere, and very important keeping everybody “bellies” happy with great demonstrations of cuisine masterskills!

Sinupharus bernardi

Sinupharus bernardi

-Manuel

The workshop has ended

It’s been a busy, productive and fun week – thank you so much to all our participants for the hard work they’ve done and the good cheer they brought!

IMG_0255_edStay tuned for updates on results and continued work – though the workshop has finished, work is only just beginning!

 

Participant snapshots – Sara

IMG_0249 Name: Sara Castillo Oñate

Home institution: University of Vigo (Spain) and Spanish Institute of Oceanography

What do you work with at home?

I’m preparing a paper about composition and distribution of macrobenthos from Mauritanian deepwaters, based on samples collected with Agassiz trawl between 150 and 1600m.

I’m also working on mollusc identification (except cephalopods) from CCLME region.

 

 

Sara and Lena on board the "Aurelia"

Sara and Lena on board the “Aurelia”

What are you working on here?

I am part of the “Team Mollusca” helping the expert on bivalves Rudo von Cosel and learning a lot about the identification of this group. I’m also separating the mixed mollusc samples to morpho-specie level. This is my first workshop and I’m really happy for the experience.

Participant snapshot – Sidi

IMG_0244

Name: Sidi M. MoctarIMG_0214

Home institution: Institut Mauritanien de Recherches Océanographiques et des Pêches (IMROP)Laboratoire d’Ecologie et Biologie des organismes Aquatiques/ Mauritanian Institute of Oceanographic Research and fishing

What do you work with at home?

I am responsible for the studies of ecology, biodiversity and systematics of macrobenthos

What are you working on here?

I am part of the group working on identifying the bivalves that have been collected in the CCLME and GCLME regions.

Participant snapshots – Kouadio

IMG_0245Name: Kouakou Norbert KOUADIO, PhD in Sciences and Environment ManagementIMG_0217

Home institution : University of Nangui Abrogoua (Abidjan; Côte d’Ivoire)

What do you work with at home?

I am a teacher and a researcher, and my areas of expertise are Hydrobiology: Biology and Ecology of Benthic macroinvertebrates, and Environmental impact study (aquatic fauna)

What are you working on here?

I am part of the team working on mollusc identification based on sample material of marine invertebrates from the African CCLME and GCLME regions. The main focus of this workshop has been on the Bivalvia, whilst we last year worked mainly on Gastropods.