Coordinated by Rachel Collin of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, a team of Smithsonian scientists and international collaborators with expertise in snails, crabs, shrimp, worms, jellies and sea cucumbers participated in an intensive effort to discover organisms from this ecosystem.
Although they expected to find new species, Collin was surprised by the sheer number of novel marine organisms. "It's hard to imagine, while snorkeling around a tropical island that's only a three-hour flight from the United States, that half the animals you see are unknown to science," Collin said.
"Overwhelming diversity," said Jon Norenburg, an expert in ribbon worms from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. More than 50 percent of the ribbon worms he collected have never been seen before. Norenburg studies ribbon worms ranging from those so tiny they live between grains of sand to 6-foot-long specimens that eat entire crabs and sea hares.
During the expedition, Norenburg discovered new species of ribbon worms that live and reproduce among crab eggs. These worms can be important pests of commercial species, but they are often overlooked because they are smaller than the eggs themselves. "All the tedious dissections and microscope preparations done on a rolling, vibrating ship have really paid off," Norenburg said.
One of the unique features of the islands off the coast of Panama is that they host animals that normally are found in the Indo-Pacific, half a world away. "To think that the larvae of Hymenocera picta, a little shrimp we collected on Isla Seca, can survive a journey of more than 3,000 miles from the Indo-Pacific to the coast of Panama is mind blowing!" said Darryl Felder from the University of Louisiana. Felder will use samples collected on this expedition as part of the crustacean Tree of Life, a project funded by the National Science Foundation, which aims to determine the relationships among all families of crabs and shrimps. Even soft corals, a relatively well-studied group, yielded 15 new species over 3 years in a complimentary project organized by STRI Staff Scientist Hector Guzman.
The scientists hope their data will be useful for ANAM (Panama's environmental agency) and to STRI's Juan Mate, who leads the effort to develop an innovative management plan for Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What species live here? How much of this biota remains unknown to science? What are the relationships to other world regions? The results of this collection trip will be published in the scientific literature during the next several years, as taxonomists classify each organism.
This adventure is far from over. The STRI team is ideally positioned to thoroughly sample the entire fauna, not just the corals and fishes. Since most studies of the Eastern Pacific date back 100 years, it is vital to obtain current data from the area.
Beth King | EurekAlert!
When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences