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The Invertebrate Collections is one of the University Museum’s large collections of scientific zoological material. “Invertebrates” is a traditional grouping for animals without a backbone. At our museum, like in many other scientific collections, invertebrates is the remaining part of the animal kingdom when vertebrates, insects, spiders and millipedes (entomology) have been accounted for. Invertebrates therefore is a diverse group of very different animals with often spectacular ways of life in many types of environments. We still know very little about many species of invertebrates because they are difficult to study and identify. Many species are also still undiscovered. Scientific collections are fundamental sources of knowledge about our zoological diversity. On these pages we want to inform about the contents of the collections and about past and current activities.

Our permanent web pages can be found here

For norsk versjon av bloggen, klikk her

High(er) species diversity of Glyceriformia

goniadidae figHappy WormWednesday*!

One of our contributions at the International Polychaete Conference in Cardiff was a poster that dealt with how a combination of careful morphological examinations using the available literature and DNA barcoding of polychaetes in the families Glyceridae and Goniadidae from the West coast of Africa is indicating a much higher diversity than we can assign names to at the moment.

Head on over to our MIWA (Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa) blog to see the poster and learn more!

*that is an actual hashtag on Twitter – check it out!

A week of worms in Wales!

Does that not sound appealing?
It was actually a lovely event!

The IPC2016 logo © National Museum Wales

The IPC2016 logo © National Museum Wales

The 12th International Polychaete Conference took place in Cardiff, Wales during the first week of August. These events have been taking place every third year since 1981, and the previous one was in Sydney, Australia in 2013.



Polychaetologists assembled on the steps of the National Museum Cardiff (c) IPC2016

Polychaetologists anno 2016 assembled on the steps of the National Museum Cardiff © National Museum Wales

During an intensive week of presentations and posters spanning topics within Systematics, Phylogeny, Ecology, Methodologies, Biodiversity, Biodiversity and Ecology, Morphology, Reproduction & Larval Ecology, Development, and Polychaete studies, people had the chance to showcase their work, and learn more about what others are working on. The local organising committee invited us to “Have a happy conference, re-connecting with those already known, meeting correspondents for the first time, ans making new connections and new friends” – and I think we can safely say that the mission was accomplished!

Cardiff – and the National Museum Wales – was an excellent venue for “polychaetologists” from all over the globe.

Snapshots of Cardiff

Snapshots of Cardiff (photos: K.Kongshavn)

In all we were 190 attendees from about 30 countries present – including a sizeable Norwegian group! Some of us (below) gave talks, and most were also involved in posters. Results and material from large projects and surveys such as PolyNor (Polychaete diversity in Nordic Seas), MAREANO (Marine AREA database for NOrwegian waters),  NorBOL (The Norwegian Barcode of Life), and MIWA (Marine Invertebrates of West Africa) were all well incorporated in the Norwegian contributions.

There were in fact a lot of contributions involving one or more collaborators from a Norwegian institution (UM, NTNU, NIVA, The SARS center, NHM Oslo, Akvaplan-NIVA ++) being presented during the conference. It is really nice to see that the community is growing through recruitment of both students and international researchers.

Norwegian delegates lining up in the City Hall before the start of the banquet

Norwegian delegates lining up in the City Hall before the start of the banquet

As Torkild said in his excellent blog post (in Norwegian, translation by me):

Pins marking where participants come from - this was not quite completed when the photo was taken, but none the less - we beat Sweden!

Pins marking where participants come from – this was not quite completed when the photo was taken, but none the less..well represented!

With so many active participants in the field, a lot of exciting research is being carried out in Norway. Not only do we have many projects – large and small – running at our institutions involving our “regular” Norwegian collaborators; there is also a significant proportion of international participation in these projects.

Furthermore, our activities enable researchers from all over the world to visit or loan from our scientific collections, and study the substantial (new) material that the projects are generating. It is nice to see that our efforts are being recognized in the international community! The recent flurry of activities has been well aided by the Norwegian Species Initiative (Artsprosjektet) (and the MIWA-project at UM).

The majority of our research is based on, or incorporates, museum material from our collections. The collections have been built over years, decades and even centuries, and continue to increase in scientific value as new science is added.

It is gratifying to see the material being used, and we hope it will gain even more attention in the aftermath of the conference.

From the poster session - these are some (!) of the posters we were involved in

From the poster session – these are some (!) of the posters we were involved in (photos: K.Kongshavn)

The University Museum was well represented, both in attendance, and in contributions. Below is a list of what we (co-)authored, presenting author is in bold, and University Museum people are in italics. We plan on posting some of the posters here, so stay tuned for that!


  • Giants vs pygmies: two strategies in the evolution of deep-sea quill worms (Onuphidae, Annelida)
    Nataliya Budaeva, Hannelore Paxton, Pedro Ribeiro, Pilar Haye, Dmitry Schepetov, Javier Sellanes, Endre Willassen
  • DNA barcoding contributing to new knowledge on diversity and distribution of Polychaeta (Annelida) in Norwegian and adjacent waters
    Torkild Bakken, Jon A. Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn, Eivind Oug, Tom Alvestad, Nataliya Budaeva, Arne Nygren, Endre Willassen
  • Diversity and phylogeny of Diopatra bristle worms (Onuphidae, Annelida) from West Africa
    Martin Hektoen, Nataliya Budaeva
  • Experiences after three years of automated DNA barcoding of Polychaeta
    Katrine Kongshavn, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Torkild Bakken, Tom Alvestad, Eivind Oug, Arne Nygren, Nataliya Budaeva, Endre Willassen


  • Diversity and species distributions of Glyceriformia in shelf areas off western Africa
    Lloyd Allotey, Akanbi Bamikole Williams, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad, Katrine Kongshavn, Endre Willassen
  • Eclysippe Eliason, 1955 (Annelida, Ampharetidae) from the North Atlantic with the description of a new species from Norwegian waters
    Tom Alvestad, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Katrine Kongshavn
  • Phylogeny of Ampharetidae
    Mari Heggernes Eilertsen, Tom Alvestad, Hans Tore Rapp, Jon Anders Kongsrud
  • Ophelina (Polychaeta, Opheliidae) in Norwegian waters and adjacent areas – taxonomy, identification and species distributions
    Jon Anders Kongsrud, Eivind Oug, Torkild Bakken, Arne Nygren, Katrine Kongshavn
  • Pista Malmgren, 1866 (Terebellidae) from Norway and adjacent areas
    Mario H. Londoño-Mesa, Arne Nygren, Jon Anders Kongsrud
  • Lumbrineridae (Annelida, Polychaeta) from Norwegian and adjacent waters with the description of a new deep-water species of Abyssoninoe
    Eivind Oug, Katrine Kongshavn, Jon Anders Kongsrud
  • Nephtyidae (Polychaeta, Phyllodocida) of West African shelf areas
    Ascensão Ravara, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Tom Alvestad
  • Phylogeny of the family Maldanidae based on molecular data
    Morten Stokkan, Jon Anders Kongsrud, Endre Willassen

We had a mid-week excursion where we got to see a bit more of our hosting country; namely the impressive Caerphilly Castle constructed in the 13th century and still looking magnificent today, and a lovely lunch at the Llanerch wineyard with time for informal mingling and catching up.


Caerphilly Castle (photo: K.Kongshavn)

Note the red dragon in the Castle wall; this is the dragon of the Welsh flag. The story goes something like this (according to Wikipedia, at least!): From the Historia Brittonum,[2] written around 830 a text describes a struggle between two serpents deep underground, which prevents King Vortigern from building a stronghold. This story was later adapted into a prophecy made by the wizard Myrddin (or Merlin) of a long fight between a red dragon and a white dragon. According to the prophecy, the white dragon, representing the Saxons, would at first dominate but eventually the red dragon, symbolising the Britons, would be victorious.

Being museum people (er..? People employed at a museum, I mean!) ourselves, we made sure to visit the exhibitions as well, and especially the new “Wriggle!” exhibition, which is all about..worms! Lots of fun, and a*a lot* of information packed in. Make sure to visit it, if you get the chance!

Visiting the "Wriggle!" exhibition during the Ice Breaker event

Visiting the “Wriggle!” exhibition during the Ice Breaker event

The attendants have also been busy on Twitter, visit @IPC2016 or check #IPC12Cardiff for loads of photos and on-the-spot-commentaries

Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the arranging committeeDIOLCH!

Cheers, Katrine

ps: Dw i’n hoffi mwydod!

Happy International Polychaete Day!

Last year we celebrated the first ever International Polychaete Day, and you can revisit our blog post here.

The celebration was initiated as a way to commemorate Kristian Fauchald, a key figure in the polychaetologist community for many years – as as a way for us to show off the cool critters that we work with!

You can read more about Polychaetes and what makes them so important on the invertebrate blog of the Smithsonian National Museum on Natural History

PolychaeteDayThe day is being celebrated all over the globe, and many of the contributions are being collected as a “Storify” feature on Twitter, you can view them here: Storify

On both Twitter and Facebook the tags #PolychaeteDay and #InternationalPolychaeteDay are being used  – check it out!

My, what big teeth you have!

If not big, then certainly many!

Pictured is a Goniada multidentata (you guessed it, “many toothed”!), photographed in a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The lower photo has been coloured afterwards to better show the placement of the teeth.

Don’t worry though, the whole animal is only a few millimetre long, so you are not on its menu!

The species was first described in the yearbook of Bergen Museum (now the University Museum of Bergen) in Arwidsson, Ivar. (1899). Studien über die Familien Glyceridae und Goniadidae. Bergens Museums Aarbog. 1898(11): 1-69, plates I-IV., which is available online at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/130141#page/257/mode/1up

Goniada multidentataThis specimen was collected by the R/V “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen” and has been identified as part of our MIWA – Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa – project. We’re working on a poster on the diversity of Glyceridae and Goniadidae of the region that will be presented at the 12th International Polychaete Conference in Wales this summer.

Seaweeds continued

An alternate world?

An alternate world?

The week flew by in a flurry of Latin names, literature and sea water – today is the day for unpacking, making sure that everything is stored safely, and revising lists.

An impressive collection of species on the final day!

An impressive collection of species on the final day!

A voucher, ready to be pressed.

A voucher, neatly laid out and ready to be pressed.

Pressing voucher specimens

Pressing voucher specimens

Tissue samples

Tissue samples

In total we collected 88 samples of 76 different species, most of which are not in the BOLD database for Norway yet. It will be exciting to see what results we get!

The tissue samples will be sent to the Saunders lab, as they have kindly offered collaborate on this collection and help us with the sequencing as our go-to lab in NorBOL is not optimally set up to deal with algae.

Thank you so much to all the students and teachers for being so welcoming, and for being good sports about me spiriting away your specimens!

On the hunt for seaweeds!

The red, the green, and the brown

The red, the brown, and the green

This week the invertebrates are forced to take second place (!) as I have joined the master students participating on the course BIO309A – marine floristics out at our field station.

Lab work

Lab work

The course is the sister course to Marine faunistics that I joined in on last fall. The focus of this week is the macroalgae; the seaweeds that most people are (passingly) familiar with. (The micro algae have been covered in lectures and lab work back at BIO earlier.)

We are doing a mix of field work and lab work. Every day we go out and sample, and bring the catch back to the lab to identify it. 1-2 specimens of each species that is identified is destined to become barcode vouchers for NorBOL, and go through the by now fairly familiar route of photo-tissue sampling-preservation for inclusion in the museum collection as a voucher. Seaweeds fixate badly in ethanol, so instead we are pressing them and making herbarium specimens. So far we have about 50 vouchers (from almost as many different species), and the number is sure to climb as we continue working our way through the fresh stuff we just collected.

Collecting just outside the station

Collecting just outside the station


Kjersti is explaining about the current habitat

Ah, such a hard day to be at sea!

Ah, such a hard day to be at sea!



Being ferried across to the island where we'll examine the tide pools

Being ferried across to the island where we’ll examine the tide pools

Nice location!

Nice location!

"that one!"

“that one!”

Kjersti is explaining the habitat


Wave exposed!

Wave exposed!

I do "happen" to find some animals *on the lagae as well - here's a beautiful nudibranch, a Doto cf. maculata

I do “happen” to find some animals *on the algae as well – here’s a beautiful nudibranch, a Doto cf. maculata

Undercover amphipod

Undercover amphipod

Hydrozoans and two Aplysia punctata hanging out on a piece of Ascophyllum nodosum

Hydrozoans and two Aplysia punctata hanging out on a piece of Ascophyllum nodosum

Amphipod-Thursday. WoRMS – (all) about amphipods

It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless. Most biologists are not taxonomists. Even so – the work many biologists do is based on knowing the species studied, and knowing the correct name is part of that important knowledge.

Screenshot from WoRMS-search: Andaniopsis lupus

Screenshot from WoRMS-search: Andaniopsis lupus

But how do we know what names are valid, and what species have been formally described within a group? Taxonomic revisions tend to have name-changes as a result, and new species are described all the time – for amphipods an average of 140 species new to science are described yearly…

Screenshot from World Amphipoda Database

Screenshot from World Amphipoda Database

This is where databases will be your best friend! For marine species, the World Record of Marine Species, WoRMS, database is used widely, with more than 200 000 visits every month. Here you can find not only current accepted names, but also information about synonymised names, taxonomic literature, and for some species information about distribution, ecological traits and links to other resources. The data have all been checked and edited by a world-wide team of taxonomic and thematic editors – all responsible for their special groups of organisms.

IMG_9037This week, 22 of the 34 taxonomic editors of the World Amphipoda Database, feeding WoRMS with all Amphipod-related information, gathered at the Flanders Marine Institute in Oostende, Belgium to learn about how to best edit the information about Amphipods. It was two days full of information about the database, but also of hands-on training and with the help of the nice people in the Data Management Team of WoRMS, we managed to get quite a lot of information added and edited on the database. Needless to say, with more than 9000 amphipod species accepted (and several of them with earlier names or alternate representations), we have not completely finished yet. The work on editing a database is continuous – and we have plans for adding more info for each species, including type-information, ecological information and links to identification keys.

The second best thing about going to workshops (the first being all the exciting new things we learn), is that we get to spend time with colleagues from far away. The people working on amphipods are in many ways my extended family – this is at least how it feels whenever we meet. News about both amphipods and life in general are exchanged, possible new projects are planned, and friendships continue to be reinforced over cups of coffee, early breakfasts and late dinners. And every time we leave each other, there is a hope that our next meeting might not be too far away.  My colleagues from Poland call this “the Amphipoda way of life”  – and this friendly, collaborate life is a good life to have as a researcher.


Participants at the workshop. Photo: AHS Tandberg (with help from ? at VLIZ)

Anne Helene


Horton, T.; Lowry, J.; De Broyer, C.; Bellan-Santini, D.; Coleman, C. O.; Daneliya, M.; Dauvin, J-C.; Fišer, C.; Gasca, R.; Grabowski, M.; Guerra-García, J. M.; Hendrycks, E.; Holsinger, J.; Hughes, L.; Jaume, D.; Jazdzewski, K.; Just, J.; Kamaltynov, R. M.; Kim, Y.-H.; King, R.; Krapp-Schickel, T.; LeCroy, S.; Lörz, A.-N.; Senna, A. R.; Serejo, C.; Sket, B.; Tandberg, A.H.; Thomas, J.; Thurston, M.; Vader, W.; Väinölä, R.; Vonk, R.; White, K.; Zeidler, W. (2016) World Amphipoda Database. Accessed at http://www.marinespecies.org/amphipoda on 2016-04-07

WoRMS-info on workshop: http://www.marinespecies.org/news.php?p=show&id=4531

Today is Taxonomist Appreciation Day!

Initiated in 2013 by Dr. Terry McGlynn, March 19th has become

the International Taxonomist Appreciation Day!

The what, now?

 Carl von Linné 1707–1778 painted by A. Roslin. (Wikimedia)

Carl von Linné 1707–1778 painted by A. Roslin (Wikimedia)

Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms and includes all plants, animals and microorganisms of the world. Using morphological, behavioural, genetic and biochemical observations, taxonomists identify, describe and arrange species into classifications, including those that are new to science.

Modern taxonomy began with Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), who devised the formal binominal (two-part) naming system we use to classify all lifeforms. Since then, approximately 1.7 million animal species have been formally described (according to the IUCN (2014)).

It is of course impossible to give a definite number for how many species that are still awaiting recognition and formal description, but a estimate by Mora et al. in 2011 suggest that

In spite of 250 years of taxonomic classification and over 1.2 million* species already catalogued in a central database, our results suggest that some 86% of existing species on Earth and 91% of species in the ocean still await description. Renewed interest in further exploration and taxonomy is required if this significant gap in our knowledge of life on Earth is to be closed.

From Buzz Hoot Roar

If you want to know more about what taxonomists do, you can have a read here: Taxonomy matters. Here’s why (Lyman Museum at McGill University).

There is a lot of work still to be done – and far too few taxonomists available to do it – so please appreciate the ones that we have!

Celebrate the day by

  • giving your local taxonomist a cup of coffee (or tea), and a word of encouragement (a big pile of money for research wouldn’t be amiss, either!)
  • check out the taxonomy pun contest at Buzz Hoot Roar (“a graphics-driven blog that shares and/or explains a scientific concept in 300 words or less”)
  • visit Curious Taxonomy for funny, punny, interesting and plain strange species names – and share your favourites!
    Some of ours include:
    Did you know that there is a genus of small marine snails named Ittibittium? These are – of course – smaller than molluscs of the genus Bittium.
    Strategus longichomperus (Ratcliffe) is a Honduran scarab with long mandibles.
    Ytu brutus (Spangler, 1980) is a water beetle, “Ytu” comes from the local (in Brazil) word for waterfall.
    Has your favourite book/movie/game characters been honoured with a naming?
    Aleiodes atuin, A. binkyi, A. deathi ++ (Butcher et al. 2012) are braconid wasps – all named from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. [Zootaxa 3457]
    Darthvaderum (Hunt, 1996) is an oribatid mite “When I saw the SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of the gnathosoma I immediately thought of Darth Vader, evil antihero of Star Wars.” [Records of the Australian Museum 48: 303-324]
    Gwaihiria (Nauman) is a diapriid wasp named for Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles.
  • visit the Biodiversity Heritage Library and learn something new
  • visit the exhibitions at your local Natural History Museum (Bergen sadly excepted at the moment – we will open again in 2019!)
  • If you can read Norwegian, check out this post about Amphipod taxonomy and taxonomists, and peruse the ongoing biodiversity projects from the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, where taxonomists work to better our knowledge of the local fauna and flora.
  • understand the value of Museum Collections for Research and Society
  • remember the naturalists who have perished in pursuit of knowledge by visiting The Wall of the Dead: A Memorial to Fallen Naturalists
  • tell your taxonomist co-workers that you appreciate their work!


#loveyourtaxonomist is the word of the day!


Mora C, Tittensor DP, Adl S, Simpson AGB, Worm B (2011) How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001127.

The World Conservation Union (2014) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014.3. Summary Statistics for Globally Threatened Species. Table 1: Numbers of threatened species by major groups of organisms (1996–2014))

*see paper for explanation for this number vs the 1.7 million of the IUCN.

Travelogue from Jenni’s field-trip to California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Sea slugs and San Francisco

Phanerophthalmus sp. from Mozambique. Photo: Manuel A. E. Malaquias

Phanerophthalmus sp. from Mozambique. Photo: Manuel A. E. Malaquias

I am three months into the second year of my masters in marine biology, and was lucky enough to start off this semester with a three week trip to San Francisco in order to collect material for my project.

I am writing my master thesis for the University museum of Bergen on the phylogenetic systematics and evolution of a small marine gastropod.

The title of my project is “Patterns of speciation in the Indo-West Pacific, with a systematic review of the genus Phanerophthalmus (Cephalaspidea, Haminoeidae).

I will be using an integrative taxonomic approach combining fine-scale anatomical dissections and molecular phylogenetics to revise the taxonomy and be able to better understand the relationships of the species. The group is restricted to the shallow waters of the Indo-West Pacific and may therefore be used as a good model to study speciation and the historical biogeography of other organisms in this region.

In order to obtain specimens for this project loans have been made from various museums and academic institutions around the world. In total I have 60 specimens on loan from these various institutions, however they still only represent part of the diversity of the genus with limited geographical coverage. The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco holds the largest collection of sea slugs in the World, including specimens of the genus Phanerophthalmus, with over 100 specimens. So, it was arranged for me to visit this large collection and assess what was important for my project. Travelling to CAS also meant I was able to work alongside Dr. Terry Gosliner, a leading expert in the field of malacology.

Phanerophthalmus crawling on seagrass

Phanerophthalmus crawling on seagrass

Pier 39 and California sea lions

Pier 39 and California sea lions

So, on January 16th I got on a 10 hour flight to San Francisco. I stayed at a guest house in the Richmond district of San Francisco, about 40 min walk or 30 min bus from CAS.

Waking up on Sunday morning I was a bit jetlagged, but super excited to be in San Francisco. As it was Martin Luther King Jr. day tomorrow (Monday), I had two days to recover from the flight and adjust to the time difference (9 hours behind Bergen!).

I decided to go and explore the city so I took a bus to downtown San Francisco and went to Fisherman’s Wharf, to Pier 39 where the Aquarium of the bay is and also the California sea lions.

On Monday I went to see where I was going to be spending the next three weeks: at the California Academy of Sciences. Situated in Golden Gate park, the surroundings were beautiful.

Golden Gate park

Golden Gate park

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge


After visiting the grounds of CAS I wandered over to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was rain in the air and the fog was coming down but the view of the bridge was spectacular.







California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

Tuesday morning I arrived at CAS eager to dive into the collections. Terry met me at the staff entrance and after a chat and a coffee we got to work. The CAS database contained more than 100 specimens of Phanerophthalmus. The first few days were spent examining labels and matching live photos with specimens. The amount of material was a bit overwhelming and even though I would have liked to look at it all, this would not be possible during my short three week visit. So with guidance from my supervisor, Manuel Malaquias, I was able to focus on the most important specimens. As I am looking at the phylogeny of Phanerophthalmus it is important for me to have specimens which I can extract DNA from. It is also useful to know what these animals looked like live in order to maybe use the external morphology as a character for determining species.

The three weeks flew by so quickly. I spent my days with the collections, dissecting specimens and also got the opportunity to try the academy’s brand new scanning electron microscope. Terry was an amazing host and kept me busy. A huge thank you to him for dedicating so much time towards helping me out. Also, a huge thank you to everyone else at the academy for being so nice and welcoming. After my three weeks at CAS I had a few days to be a tourist in the city. My last weekend in the city happened to be Super Bowl 50 weekend and the city was buzzing with people and events. All in all I had a great visit, and now I have lots of material to carry on working with back in Bergen.

The collections (top), my dissection station (bottom left) and the male reproductive of Phanerophthalmus

The collections (top), my dissection station (bottom left) and the male reproductive of Phanerophthalmus

Scanning electron microscope session with Terry

Scanning electron microscope session with Terry



The amazing redwood trees at Muir Woods just outside the city

The amazing redwood trees at Muir Woods just outside the city

Keep calm and focus on sea slugs

Keep calm and focus on sea slugs