Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UF researchers name new cusk-eels useful for understanding environment

11.09.2012
A study by University of Florida and University of Kansas researchers describing eight new cusk-eel species provides data for better understanding how disasters like the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill impact biodiversity and the environment.

The 60-year study appearing Tuesday in the Florida Museum of Natural History Bulletin provides a comprehensive taxonomic revision of one of the least-studied groups of cusk-eels, bony fishes distantly related to cod. Although abundant and widespread in the Americas, the fishes in the genus Lepophidium have previously been poorly known to biologists.

“With the recent Gulf of Mexico disaster, one of the first things that people started asking was what impact was had and on what animals, and a lot of biologists said, ‘We don’t know all the animals that are in the Gulf of Mexico because the area hasn’t been studied enough,’ ” said study co-author Rob Robins, ichthyology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “A number of these species are from the Gulf of Mexico, including some of the new ones, and this paper brings us closer to our ultimate goal of cataloguing the diversity of life so that when we need the information, it’s available.”

In addition to describing the new species, the study includes new descriptions of all members of the genus and elevates two sub-species to species, bringing the number of Lepophidium species to 23. The research included observations of the fish in the wild, X-rays of their internal anatomy and close examination of thousands of museum specimens.

Lead author C. Richard “Dick” Robins, University of Kansas curator emeritus, completed much of the fieldwork and collected many examples of cusk-eels as a professor of marine science at the University of Miami. Miami’s fish collection was later transferred and is now part of the Florida Museum’s ichthyology collection, one of the five largest in the nation.
“I think it’s amazing that there is a group of fishes that is really common in shallow water that had so many undescribed species,” Dick Robins said. “It just shows the state of the art is really poor and unfortunately, I think it’s really typical. I’d hate to hazard a guess about how many undescribed species of fish there are in really shallow waters, but people don’t seem to work on them that much.”

The genus Lepophidium includes smaller species of cusk-eels that live on the Continental Shelf, from shallow coastal water to about 600 feet deep.
“Since these are soft-bottom fishes and some of these occur in shallow waters, you’re dealing with man’s effect on the environment, what pollution does to some of these environments and how it affects the animals that live there,” said California Academy of Sciences research associate Robert Lea, a marine biologist who specializes in another genus of cusk-eels. “Some of these are going to be Gulf of Mexico species and probably many of these are going to be indicators of environmental quality also.”

Because they are benthic, meaning they live near the bottom, and burrow in sand, cusk-eels are particularly difficult to collect, Lea said.
“This is a group that we’ve needed additional knowledge on, and this study provides a tremendous amount of information for people studying soft-bottom fishes in the Americas,” Lea said. “This is a milestone work because it’s a lifelong study and it answers a lot of questions. It’s the end of a chapter for that group of animals.”

Cusk-eels are plainly colored, typically with a beige body and some degree of black pigment in the fins. They also have a rostral spine, a sharp point found on their snout. Major differences in the cusk-eels include features of their internal anatomy, such as number of vertebrae or gut color. Fin ray counts are also important for distinguishing the various species.
“This is not a case of just working with specimens in a museum – it’s important to know these animals and where they live,” Dick Robins said. “I think it’s important that we know about the animals that we share this planet with.”

Cusk-eels may reach 6.5 feet in South America, where they are an important food source in some regions, but the Lepophidium species, which do not exceed 1 foot, are generally too small for human consumption, researchers said. Dick Robins became interested in studying cusk-eels in the early 1960s because he encountered so many undescribed species, he said.
“This was a group of fish that turned me on at some point and nobody else was working on them,” Dick Robins said. “The more I worked, the more undescribed species I found. So I just got more and more involved with it. I’m very happy to have this opportunity to bring it all together in this paper.”

Florida Museum volunteer Mary Brown is also a study co-author.
Credits
Writer
Danielle Torrent, dtorrent@flmnh.ufl.edu
Source
Rob Robins, rhrobins@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-1957

Rob Robins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>