Category Archives: 2015 december calendar

Door #11 Invertebrately inspired art?

Scientific illustrations today are usually formed within quite strict limits. We use photographs or drawings of small details, and these are all connected to one specific specimen that preferably is to be found in a scientific collection.

But can other approaches also help us? The artist Pippip Ferner has long found her inspiration in nature, and especially the (marine) invertebrates. Maybe her pictures can inspire us to examine other details in our study-animals? Maybe a picture can inspire you to think more about nature, the sea, or invertebrates – their lives and lores? These are not pictures that are meant to be scientifically accurate, but rather fabulations inspired by the wild things that happen when evolution gets to do as it pleases…

Some of Pippis drawings are inspired from scientific drawings, both old and new, some are from animals we have looked at together.

Here are some of Pippips pictures from this year, and the animals that inspired them. These three pictures were chosen to be part of the Evolution and Art section of the international science conference Evolution this summer in Austin, TX.

"Tunicate anatomy" (c) Pippip Ferner

“Tunicate anatomy” (c) Pippip Ferner

Pippip says about this first picture:

“A scientific illustration of a TUNICATE is the inspiration for this work. Tunicates are sort of last stage before vertebrates. Clues for this is found in the larva that has a notochord, comparable to the spine of vertebrates. It has cerebral vesicle equivalent to a vertebrate’s brain, sensory organs that includes an eyespot to detect light and an otolith, which helps the animal orient to the gravity.
Fascinated by the thought of this “slimy blob” having many features similar to humans resulted in this quite complex outcome. The overload of insistent lines has given the tunicate quite a sophisticated system.”

Komodo National Park sea squirt (Polycarpa aurata). Photo: Nick Hobgood (wikipedia)

Komodo National Park sea squirt (Polycarpa aurata). Photo: Nick Hobgood (wikipedia)

On the left is a photo of a live tunicate. This photo is from Indonesia, but tunicates are common to find also in our colder waters. They can be solitary as this one, or colonial – where several tunicates form a colony together by budding, so that one large colony basically has the exact same DNA. Most tunicates are sessile (they sit attached to one place), but some live floating around in the water. The best known of these pelagic tunicates are the salps of the southern oceans.

 

Internal anatomy of a tunicate (Urochordata). Adapted, with permission, from an outline drawing available on BIODIDAC. (Wikipedia)

Internal anatomy of a tunicate (Urochordata). Adapted, with permission, from an outline drawing available on BIODIDAC. (Wikipedia)

A scientific illustration of a tunicate in a Biology textbook will look something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to other invertebrates, Pippip has worked with clams:

"Bivalve anatomy" (c) Pippip Ferner

“Bivalve anatomy” (c) Pippip Ferner

“In this image I question how the clam lives in symbiosis with other species as its shell gets weaker due to climate changes. The drawing might resemble the results of some kind of scientific inquiry with references to the anatomy of a clam (bivalve).
In my work I let my own artistic evolutionary process make the clam into something more abstract.”

(If you wait until door # 22, there might be a story that relates to bivalves that live with others…)

This is a Ctenophore, a comb jelly:

"Comb jelly anatomy" (c) Pippip Ferner

“Comb jelly anatomy” (c) Pippip Ferner

“The starting point of this work was a detailed illustration from biologist Ernst Haeckel’s (Artforms in Nature) of a comb jelly/ctenophorae. The comb jelly differs from other jellyfish with more sophisticated nervous system with both synapses and individual muscle cells.
The outcome of this drawing is a tribute to the beauty of the structure of this organism.”

Jelly fishes anf Comb jelly fishes. Illustration: Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur 1904, plate 27

Jelly fishes anf Comb jelly fishes. Illustration: Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur 1904, plate 27

Ctenophores are predatory planktonic jellies. The special thing about them, according to our Jelly-specialist Aino, is that they have a rotational symmetry. The diagnostic feature of comb jellies are their comb-rows that they use for swimming. The photos above represent the three groups of comb jellies – all of them are present in Norway.

 

To the right is the Haeckel-picture she started from, and here is a film of Comb jellies from the Chicago Shedd Aquarium.

 

 

 

Pippip, Anne Helene and Aino

 

 

Door #24: Happy Holidays!

For the final post of our advent calendar I would just like to say THANK YOU! to all my wonderful colleagues and the guest we’ve had at the collections throughout the year for contributing to making this job so interesting, rewarding and fun!

Biologists are usually somewhat elusive creatures, preferring to have the camera pointing at their research objects instead of at themselves. Still, here is the majority of the staff and visitors of the invertebrate  collections captured on camera - though some remain cryptic :)

Biologists are usually somewhat elusive creatures, preferring to have the camera pointing at their research objects instead of at themselves. Still, here is the majority of the staff and visitors of the invertebrate collections in 2015 captured on camera – though some remain cryptic 🙂

Especial thank you goes to those who took time out of their busy schedules to join in on the calendar on such short notice (if we ever do this again we’ll try to start planning *before* the 30th of November…!)

And thank you to our blog readers for joining us on this little calendar adventure, I hope you enjoyed it – and maybe you even learned something new?

Have a wonderful holiday.

Best wishes, Katrine

PS: Did you manage to catch all of our Calendar posts?

You can find all of them here

Door #1: A day at sea
Door #2: The Leaf Sheep Sea Slug
Door #3: Prepare to be HYPNOtized
Door #4: A cushioned star
Door #5: A (so far) undescribed species of bristle worm
Door #6: Associated Amphipods
Door #7: Shrimp and salad
Door #8: One jar –> many, many vials
Door #9: Delving into the DNA
Door #10: Old Stoneface
Door #11: Just a white blob?
Door #12: Plankton sampling with a vertebrate view!
Door #13: Time for rejuvenation
Door #14: A world of colour and slime
Door #15: Guest researchers: Ivan
Door #16: First molecular-based phylogeny of onuphid bristle worms
Door #17: A marriage of art and science
Door #18: A photosynthetic animal
Door #19: The amphipods with the pointed hoods
Door #20: How many undescribed bristle worms live in Australian waters?
Door #21: A Norwegian oddity
Door #22: The Heart of the Museum
Door #23: Of MAREANO and the Museum
Door #24: Happy Holidays!

Door #23: Of MAREANO and the Museum

As mentioned earlier in our calendar, we have an extensive cooperation going on with the seabed mapping programme MAREANO*. You can read a lot more about MAREANO on the project home page, where you will also find many interesting videos and beautiful photographs from – quite literally – the bottom of the sea, as video transects are extensively used for mapping the sea floor and its biodiversity.

book mareanoMAREANO very recently published a book named “The Norwegian Sea Floor – New Knowledge from MAREANO for Ecosystem-based Management”. As it presents the uniquely detailed mapping that is being carried out, it has received much attention (also internationally, more about that here and here (in Norwegian)). You can access the book as a pdf though the MAREANO web pages – check it out!

We wanted to include a post in our advent calendar about the part the University Museum plays regarding the thousands and thousands of biological samples that MAREANO generates. The MAREANO material is a big part of our everyday work here, and so it’s been blogged about before: follow the links to learn more our about cruise participation, workshops (e.g. here and here), new species described from UM based on MAREANO-material, and genetic barcoding through the Norwegian Barcode of Life (NorBOL) project.

Workshop on the MAREANO-sponges

Workshop on the MAREANO-sponges

From a workshop on Cumacean Crustacea collected by MAREANO - it was late in December,so of course we had to make gingerbread critters

From a workshop on Cumacea (Crustacea) collected by MAREANO – it was late in December, so of course we had to make gingerbread critters (that could be identified to genus or species level..!)

Snaphshot from one of the workshops during the porject Polychaete diversity in Norwegian Waters (PolyNor)

Snaphshot from one of the workshops during the project “Polychaete diversity in Norwegian Waters” (PolyNor), which has been working a lot on MAREANO-collected material

Every station with physical biological sampling typically includes two grab samples, one or two RP-sledge drags, and one beam trawl. Combined with video and all sorts of geological and chemical data collected, this gives us a thorough insight to the biodiversity at the location. The samples collected by different gears are naturally also treated differently; you can see how they are split up in this figure:

mareano_whatgoeswhere

IMR = Institute of Marine Research (Havforskningsinstituttet)

Now, any project – even one as extensive as MAREANO – does have a finite life span, whereas museum collections are (at least in theory) here for “eternity”. This means that we have to try and envision what material will be important not just right now, but also in the future – whilst we simultaneously deal with the constraints of limited time and space. It is not feasible to keep everything, but we do try our best to make sure that we keep that which is most important. The fact that MAREANO collects material not only in formalin (good for morphological studies), but also in ethanol (which – unlike formalin – enables us to do genetic analysis) is hugely important as we get the best of both worlds delivered – by the pallet!

Three (!) pallets of material

Pallets of material

Buckets and buckets with sediment and animals

Buckets and buckets with sediment and animals

Filling up the car with precious cargo

Filling up the car with precious cargo

Sorting the bulk fractions by station until we process them

Sorting the bulk fractions by station until we process them

Once we receive a shipment of material, we get to work – the identified animals are unpacked, and an assessment is done on how to proceed with them; catalogue them into the museum collection, interim catalogue them into our “project catalogue”, leave them untreated for now, catalogue and pass it on to researchers working on that particular group of animals, to include it in our current projects, or discard it.

The unsorted fractions require even more TLC; the first step is for us to separate the animals from the sediment – from there on it goes through much the same process as the identified critters. These unsorted (and mostly ethanol-fixed) samples have yielded many interesting finds, and will undoubtedly continue to do so! We have so far submitted over 1300 specimens collected by MAREANO to be DNA-barcoded through the NorBOL project, and this number will continue to rise.

Sorting identified polychaete samples to family before storage

Sorting identified polychaete samples to family before storage

Guest researchers come to work on the material, here is Julio from Spain, who examined bristle worms from the family Oweniidae

Guest researchers come to work on the material, here is Julio from Spain, who examined bristle worms from the family Oweniidae

But why do we need to keep all this material? Isn’t it “done” once MAREANO has done their identification of the fractions that they process? Of course not!

This material is a veritable gold mine for scientists, and it keeps on giving; MAREANO in it self aggregates a huge amount of interesting data (see here, for instance).

However, there are still many animal species groups that are extremely difficult to identify and when specialists on specific groups get the chance to compare specimens from different regions of the world, they very often find that original taxonomic identifications have to be revised. There are many reasons for that. Specimens may simply be misidentified. The revising taxonomist may also discover that specimens of the same species are called with different names in different laboratories. With applications of DNA-techniques it may also became apparent that what was originally considered to be one widespread species is actually several different species that have to be described and named.

So there are at least two main reasons why museums are eager to access and store material from projects like MAREANO and MIWA. One is the fantastic opportunity to get fresh specimen for research. Another reason is to safeguard and document the physical objects that the data were based on and to offer open access to study the specimens for the scientific community of researchers in biodiversity. Taxonomic studies may take a lot of time to complete, and taxonomists are scarce – so new results will continue to emerge at erratic intervals.

Ampharete undecima. One of the tools used when describing a new species is the electron microscope, which allows us to take very detailed photographs of the animals. Photo: K. Kongshavn

Ampharete undecima. Photo: K. Kongshavn

Thus the collected material is – and will continue to be – invaluable to scientific community for many, many years to come. There are still many new species waiting to be discovered (such as the little polychaete Ampharete undecima (Alvestad et al 2014), or the Amphipod Halirages helgae (Ringvold & Tandberg 2014), and there is much, much more to be learned about the distribution, habitats and life history of the species that we do know.

Therefore we are both proud and grateful to play a part in the safekeeping of this valuable material, and hope that it will continue to bring exciting new knowledge!

References:

Alvestad T., Kongsrud J.A., and Kongshavn , K. (2014) Ampharete undecima, a new deep-sea ampharetid (Annelida, Polychaeta) from the Norwegian Sea . Memoirs of Museum Victoria 71:11-19 Open Access.

Ringvold, H & Tandberg, A.H. (2014) A new deepwater species of Calliopiidae, Halirages helgae
(Crustacea, Amphipoda), with a synoptic table to Halirages species from the northeast Atlantic http://dx.doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2014.98

-Katrine & Endre

(*For those wondering: MAREANO is short for Marine AREAl database for NOrwegian sea areas)

Door #22: The Heart of the Museum

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Today’s topic is the collection of type specimens of invertebrates at the University Museum,  the true heart of the collections.

 

Some of our ethanol-preserved type specimens

Some of our ethanol-preserved type specimens

“Type specimens are the objective standard of reference for the application of zoological names. When a new species or subspecies is described, the specimen(s) on which the author based his/her description become the type(s) (Article 72.1). In this way names are linked to type specimens, which can be referred to later if there is doubt over the interpretation of that name.

Consequently types are sometimes referred to as “onomatophores” which means name bearers.”

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (IZN)

 

Wikipedia has neat page about type specimens, so we are borrowing some text from them: “Although in reality biologists may examine many specimens (when available) of a new taxon before writing an official published species description, nonetheless, under the formal rules for naming species (the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature), a single type must be designated, as part of the published description.

A type description must include a diagnosis (typically, a discussion of similarities to and differences from closely related species), and an indication of where the type specimen or specimens are deposited for examination.

The geographical location where a type specimen was originally found is known as its type locality.Wikipedia

Zoological collections are maintained by institutions such as universities and museums. Ensuring that types are kept in good condition and made available for examination by taxonomists are two important functions of such collections. The particular specimen that the species description is based on is called the holotype.

Frequently the first description of a species was also based on additional individuals. These individuals are called paratypes and are supposed to reflect some of the morphological variability of the species. Our museum has accumulated about 1500 type specimens of (non-insect) invertebrates since the mid 18hundreds, but the number is not yet exact due to a dubious status of some of the oldest specimens. We are keeping those types that are preserved in liquid in a climate regulated room.

When the specimens have been mounted by the researcher on glass slides for microscopy, we are keeping those in special cabinets that are portable in case evacuation of the building should be necessary.

The type collections continue to grow as new species are being described, and new material is deposited in our care.

The Holotype of Chamaedrilus varisetosus, new species described by Martinsson et al. 2015 and one of several recent additions to the type collection of invertebrates in Bergen. (Photo: E.Willassen)

The Holotype of Chamaedrilus varisetosus, new species described by Martinsson et al. 2015 and one of several recent additions to the type collection of invertebrates in Bergen. (Photo: E.Willassen)

Screen-dump from the paper by Martinsson et al. (2015)

Screen-dump from the paper by Martinsson et al. (2015)

Type specimen on microscopy slides are kept in special cabinets. This shows the Holotype and Paratype of the small worm Chamaedrilus varisetosus, which was described for the first time by a group of Swedish and Italian researchers this year (Martinsson, Rota, Erséus (2015): ZooKeys 501: 1–14. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.501.9279) (Photo: E.Willassen)

Type specimen on microscopy slides are kept in special cabinets. This shows the Holotype and Paratype of the small worm Chamaedrilus varisetosus, which was described for the first time by a group of Swedish and Italian researchers this year (Martinsson, Rota, Erséus (2015): ZooKeys 501: 1–14. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.501.9279) (Photo: E.Willassen)

When someone works on the taxonomy of a group of animals (be it on order, family, genus or species level) they will often need to re-examine the type material. This makes the type collection perpetually crucial for the research community – and a great responsibility for the Museum.

Jon, one of the PhD-students at BIO, examining the type specimens of the sponge Chondrocladia (Chondrocladia) michaelsarsi

Jon, one of the PhD-students at BIO, examining the type specimens of the sponge Chondrocladia (Chondrocladia) michaelsarsi

Type specimen of Chondrocladia (Chondrocladia) michaelsarsi

Type specimen of Chondrocladia (Chondrocladia) michaelsarsi collected in 1910, described by Emily Arnesen in 1920 – you can find the species description here (pdf).

Door #21: A Norwegian oddity

In 1939 the Swedish malacologist Nils Odhner described the nudibranch Berghia norvegica based on two specimens collected at Frøya and Stjørna in the mouth of the Trondheimsfjord.

After its original description this species has been found very few times, the first of them by Hennig Lemche a Danish malacologist who in 1958 collected a single specimen, today housed at the Natural History Museum of Bergen (ZMBN 62033). The importance of this specimen, until recently the only one apparently available in museum collections, was demonstrated by its use in a systematics review of the genus Berghia recently completed by a team of Spanish and American researchers.

The original description of Berghia norvegica is fairly detailed, but was based on preserved specimens and therefore the colouration of this species remained elusive until very recently. For over half a century nothing was known about the colouration of this beautiful and unique animal and is only in 2011 and subsequent years that Berghia norvegica is finally rediscovered by divers and researchers participating in the NudiSafaris organized at Gulen in Sogn og Fjordane just north of Bergen.

These recent discoveries revealed the extreme beauty of this delicate animal and generated the first live images of this endemic and emblematic species of the Norwegian fauna, which we here illustrate with a photograph taken at Gulen on March, the 15th of 2014 at 38 m deep and kindly made available by Kåre Telnes author of the website “The Marine Fauna and Flora of Norway”.

The sea slug Berghia norvegica, an endemic species from Norway. Photo: Kåre Telnes.

The sea slug Berghia norvegica, an endemic species from Norway. Photo: Kåre Telnes.

Suggested reading:

Carmona, L., Pola, M., Gosliner, T. M. & Cervera, J. L. 2014. The Atlantic-Mediterranean genus Berghia Trinchese, 1877 (Nudibranchia: Aeolidiidae): taxonomic review and phylogenetic analysis. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 80: 482–498.

Evertsen, J. & Bakken, T. 2013. Diversity of Norwegian sea slugs (Nudibranchia): new species to Norwegian coastal waters and new data on distribution of rare species. Fauna Norvegica, 32: 45–52.

Odhner, N.H. 1939. Opisthobranchiate Mollusca from the western and northern coasts of Norway. Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter, 1: 1–93.

Door #20: How many undescribed bristle worms live in Australian waters?

The answer is, of course, “we don’t know”. But we *can* say that Australian polychaete fauna is largely undescribed. As an example, 91 new species and 67 new records of polychaete worms were found in the vicinity of a single small island at Great Barrier Reef as a result of a joint effort of 16 polychaete experts that spent two weeks at the Lizard Island Research Station of the Australian Museum in 2013.

Not only the Great Barrier Reef polychaete fauna is poorly studied, various areas of Australian east coast apparently also have numerous undescribed species especially in the deeper waters. Here you can see few examples of recently described new species of bristle worms from Australian.

Rhamphobrachium nutrix Paxton & Budaeva, 2015 from the Lizard Island, 9-36 m

Rhamphobrachium nutrix Paxton & Budaeva, 2015 from the Lizard Island, 9-36 m

Paradiopatra piccola Paxton & Budaeva, 2013 from eastern Australia, 124-500 m

Paradiopatra piccola Paxton & Budaeva, 2013 from eastern Australia, 124-500 m

Undescribed species from the genus Onuphis from the Lizard Island, intertidal (Photo: A. Semenov)

Undescribed species from the genus Onuphis from the Lizard Island, intertidal (Photo: A. Semenov)

Anchinothria parvula Budaeva & Paxton 2013 from eastern Australia, 244 m

Anchinothria parvula Budaeva & Paxton 2013 from eastern Australia, 244 m

Neosabellides lizae from the intertidal

Neosabellides lizae from the intertidal (Alvestad T., Budaeva N. 2015)

Suggested reading:

Special Volume Zootaxa 4019 (Open Access) Coral reef-associated fauna of Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef: polychaetes and allies http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/list/2015/4019(1).html

Alvestad T.Budaeva N. 2015. Neosabellides lizae, a new species of Ampharetidae (Annelida) from Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Zootaxa, 4019: 61–69.  http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4019.1.6

Paxton H., Budaeva N. 2015. Minibrachium, a new subgenus of Rhamphobrachium (Annelida: Onuphidae) from Australia with the description of three new species. Zootaxa, 4019: 621–634. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4019.1.21

Budaeva N., Paxton. H. 2013. Nothria and Anchinothria (Annelida: Onuphidae) from Eastern Australian waters with a discussion of ontogenetic variation of diagnostic characters. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 93: 1481–1502.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0025315412001956

Paxton H., Budaeva N. 2013. Paradiopatra (Annelida: Onuphidae) from eastern Australian waters, with the description of six new species. Zootaxa, 3686: 140–164.  http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3686.2.2

Nataliya Budaeva’s web page: http://nataliyabudaeva.wix.com/nataliyabudaeva

-Nataliya

Door #19: The amphipods with the pointed hoods

Unravelling the mysteries of Amphipods

Unravelling the mysteries of Amphipods

This last week Ania and Anne Helene have been filling the lab with details about antennae, epimeral plates and hairs (setae) on all appendages imaginable and unimaginable. The first dive into the west-African amphipods has been made, and we chose to focus on a family that is easily distinguished from the rest of the amphipoda: the Phoxocephalidae.

This family was first described by G.O. Sars in 1891, and in the northern Atlantic it is a friendly group to examine – it does not have too many species. On a world-basis, however, there are 369 species of Phoxocephalide described, within 80 genera (as of dec 14 2015). The whole groups is easily recognized by their “pointed hoods” – the head is drawn forwards just like a hood that is pulled as far to the front as it goes.

 

Ania has much of her previous experience from the Antarctic and Anne Helene has worked in the Arctic, so west-African waters seemed a good place to meet – if not literally then thematically. Being physically in the same lab is probably the best way to collaborate on examining small animals, and we had a week of long and happy days in the lab.

A Basuto stimpsoni from Guinea Bissau. Photo A.H. Tandberg

A Basuto stimpsoni from Guinea Bissau. Photo A.H. Tandberg

Why did we think the Phoxocephalidae would be a good starting point for examining the amphipod-fauna of the West-African waters? There were moments during the last week we asked ourselves this question. There are some reasons, though. To be able to identify species of amphipods you normally have to examine a collection of characters such as the antennae, sections of the different legs (Amphipods do have a lot of legs!) and the different sideplates (for example the epimeral plates).

In difference with many other amphipod groups the Phoxocephalids do not have a lot of appendages that are sticking far out of the main body, so there are not so many pieces that break off ethanol-preserved specimens – and that gives us a bit easier job.

But there are not many studies of the smaller crustaceans from these waters previously, so we were not expecting to be able to put names on much of what we were looking at. This prediction proved true – we have found one already named species (Basuto stimpsoni Stebbing, 1908) in all our samples. In addition to this we have found what we think are 27 other species – but we do not have a name for most of them. For many we don´t even have a genus name.

How will we continue with this group? The first step is to see if our 28 putative species really are different – for this we will first map their DNA barcode (COI). Depending on what results this gives us, we will be able to see how many new species we end up with.

There is definitely more to come from this study, and we promise to write about it when we know more (that will, however, not be in this advent calendar)…

-Ania and Anne Helene

Door #18: A photosynthetic animal

You may already be confused with the title, but you did read it well! Animals can do photosynthesis and most incredibly some species are more efficient than plants or algae. Yet, this achievement is not for all; you must be special, you must be unique…, you must be a sapsucking slug!

Ercolania sp. feeding inside algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

Ercolania sp. feeding inside algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

This is a process named kleptoplasty (= chloroplast symbiosis; see Door #2 of this calendar series) where the slug while feeding from the plant tissue does not digest the chloroplasts but instead migrate these organelles to specific parts of the body where they remain active producing sugars that become available to the slug.

There are two species of sapsucking slugs with a remarkable life-history. The spectacular and rare tropical species Ercolania endophytophaga and E. kencolesi both only known from Australia do not retain chloroplasts as other species do, but they do feed on algae, however, only on a very special kind – the green grape-algae of the Order Siphonocladales. These are syncytial algae made of massive single cell grape-shaped structures which the animal pierce to move in and leave inside until “green-matter” is available.

detail of Ercolania sp. inside algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

detail of Ercolania sp. inside algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

I was very fortunate to find one of this slugs back in January 2014 in southern Mozambique. Usually one has to collect a large quantity of algae to carefully search through later on in the lab and hope for the best! However, in that afternoon while sampling in a beautiful shallow tidal tropical reef in Paindane sluggishly looking at a facies of a “grape-alga” growing over a boulder I suddenly notice a tiny animal moving gently inside the algae. I grabbed a few bunches of algae into my sampling jar to look at later on…, and voilà… I was rewarded with a few specimens of one of this spectacular and difficult slugs most probably an undescribed species, the first from the Indian Ocean.

Ercolania sp. after removal from algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

Ercolania sp. after removal from algae (Photo: M. Malaquias)

-Manuel

Door #17: A marriage of art and science

What does an organism really look like – and how does that organism make us feel, what thought does it inspire, and what beauty is hidden within their complex structures?

Some of Pippip Ferner ́s studies from the cruise onboard G.O. Sars. (Small paintings  20x20cm in acrylic paint, ink and pencil) ©

Some of Pippip Ferner ́s studies from the cruise onboard G.O. Sars. (Small paintings 20x20cm in acrylic paint, ink and pencil) © Pippip Ferner

Anne Helene and Pippip look at the same organsims, but from different perspectives. Anne Helene works as a scientist at the Invertebrate Collections and Pippip Ferner is an artist who is very inspired by marine biology and marine organisms in her work.

As biologists we have the privilege to see many of the wonders of nature up close as part of our job. But how can we share that with the rest of you – all of us who didn´t go to that cruise, or don´t study that exact organism?

© Pippip Ferner

© Pippip Ferner

Historically, artists used to be part of most large projects – as documentarists. This tradition still stands, but now it is often the scientists that make drawings of what we see, and often more importantly: what details are the important ones for the scientific studies. Where does the pure artistic (non-documentary) work fit now?

 

 

 

Pippip´s long interest in marine biology has lead to her participation on a scientific cruise with MAREANO, where she met Anne Helene. Being on a cruise and observing animals live, talking with the scientists and see (part of?) what they see lead to a series of sketches that resulted in many paintings, sculptures and prints.

Amphipods by Pippip Ferner. Ink on paper. © Pippip Ferner Want to see more?  www.pippip.no

Amphipods by Pippip Ferner. Ink on paper. © Pippip Ferner Want to see more?
www.pippip.no

She wants to look at the marine biology from a non-scientific view point, to look at details or whole organisms and see new shapes and explore textures. Where the scientist has to stick to the strict morphology of the organism, Pippip can look at what is not seen.

Ferner had no idea in advance that an  amphipod had personality...  © Pippip Ferner

Ferner had no idea in advance that an
amphipod had personality… © Pippip Ferner

Here are some of Pippips examinations of amphipods – and some photos and scientific drawings of some amphipods that might have been inspiring her.  In Pippips own words, she aims to “ contrast beauty against ugliness, weak against strong, small againt large.” This might make it both easy and difficult to recognise her objects, and her pictures might be both simple and complex at the same time.

Much of our scientific work is to observe minute details in our chosen organisms. Looking at amphipods scientifically means looking for serrations along curved ridges, counting small hairs (seta) and seeing if they have split ends, looking at shapes of mouthparts and lengths of feet and antennae, and documenting this with photos and drawings.

Example of scientific drawing of  mouthparts.  Exitomelita sigynae Tandberg, Rapp et al, 2011

Example of scientific drawing of
mouthparts. Exitomelita sigynae
Tandberg, Rapp et al, 2011

Having the luck and joy of seeing these same organisms represented artistically can give an added dimension to our work. It also gives the possibility for all the rest of you to get another gate to come in contact with our organisms through.

Maybe taking both views into account will help us learn and understand even more? The scientific and artistic views can supplement each other, and have been doing so already for generations.

Metopa boecki  (live) Photo:  Anne Helene Tandberg

Metopa boecki (live) Photo: Anne Helene Tandberg

The collaboration between Pippip and Anne Helene continues – yesterday Pippip visited the Invertebrate Lab, to get new ideas and inspirations for further artistic examinations… We are sure more beautiful, inspiring and maybe provoking representations of marine life will continue to come from this collaboration. Be sure to follow us!

– Anne Helene and Pippip

Door #16: First molecular-based phylogeny of onuphid bristle worms

Onuphidae are marine bristle worms with very rich external morphology and outstanding diversity of life styles within a single polychaete family. Onuphids can be very abundant in some marine biotopes, modifying the environment by their complex ornamented tubes and influencing the structure of benthic communities. They are very widely spread in the ocean inhabiting various biotopes from the intertidal zone down to hadal depths. Onuphids are widely harvested as bait sustaining local fisheries in southeastern Australia, Mediterranean and Portuguese coasts and are even commercially farmed with the full reproductive cycle from fertilization till fully-grown worms (up to 30 cm in length) in aquaculture facility.

Nothria otsuchiensis - a bristle worm from NSW, Australia (author N. Budaeva)

Nothria otsuchiensis – a bristle worm from NSW, Australia (author N. Budaeva)

The system of Onuphidae with 23 genera grouped into two subfamilies has been suggested by Hannelore Paxton (1986) and has been widely accepted since then. The first phylogeny based on the analysis of the combination of 16S rDNA and 18S rDNA genes has been recently published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. None of the subfamilies or tested genera appeared to be para- or polyphyletic showing a strong congruence between the traditional morphology-based systematics of the family and the newly obtained molecular-based phylogenetic reconstruction. However the previously suggested hypotheses on intrageneraic relationships within onuphidae were largely rejected.

Phylogenetic tree of a bristle worm family Onuphidae (Budaeva et al., 2016)

Phylogenetic tree of a bristle worm family Onuphidae (Budaeva et al., 2016)

Suggested reading:

Budaeva N., Schepetov D., Zanol J., Neretina T., Willassen E. 2016. When molecules support morphology: Phylogenetic reconstruction of the family Onuphidae (Eunicida, Annelida) based on 16S rDNA and 18S rDNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94(B): 791–801. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2015.10.011

Paxton, H., 1986. Generic revision and relationships of the family Onuphidae (Annelida: Polychaeta). Records of the Australian Museum 38, 1–74. http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/journals/17658/175_complete.pdf

Aquabait Marine Worm Aquaculture: http://www.aquabait.com.au/about_aquabait_marine_worm_aquaculture.phtml

Nataliya Budaeva’s web page: http://nataliyabudaeva.wix.com/nataliyabudaeva

-Nataliya