Tag Archives: varia

MolluscaBase workshop (2)

Just popping in, the official ‘press release’ about last week’s workshop in Ostend:

Expanding MolluscaBase – welcoming freshwater and terrestrial editors during a WoRMS-LifeWatch workshop

 

In the week of 5-9 February, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) – host of Aphia, the online platform behind WoRMS and its many subregisters – welcomed Mollusca-experts for 4 days, to expand the content of MolluscaBase with their freshwater and terrestrial representatives and to document species traits.

Eleven taxonomic experts joined the Data Management Team in Oostende, to learn how to use the online editing platform so they can add the freshwater and terrestrial counterparts to the already ongoing initiative of MolluscaBase, which had until recently had a focus on documenting its marine representatives. In 2017, the terrestrial Mollusca part of Fauna Europaea and the bivalves parts of InvertEBase (Authority files of U.S. and Canadian land and freshwater mollusks) were added to MolluscaBase as well as a master list of the genus-group names of land snails of the world, creating the backbone and nucleus of the non-marine part of the database.

During the workshop, attention was given on how to add information to through the online interface, and on how to deal with e.g. the status of a name, names including subgenera, and the treatment of names that are first published electronically. During two days of hands-on work, almost 200 species were newly added through the online interface. On  top of that, the upload, by the DMT, of an existing file from one of the editors resulted in an additional growth of MolluscaBase with more than 600 valid species, bringing the total entry of new Mollusc species during the workhop to about 940! And also immediately after the workshop, the addition of species continued, resulting in an extra >700 species being added.There are now exactly 65,000 valid species of molluscs in MolluscaBase, of which 47,696 marine, 3,262 fresh, and 5,573 terrestrial (all Recent), plus 8,900 fossil only species. It is expected that it will take 2-3 years to index the remaining valid non-marine species.

In addition, more experienced editors within MolluscaBase dedicated their time to quality controlling and adding new traits information, where they put the focus on (1) functional group information and (2) feeding type information. They were able to verify the already present information on benthos – plankton – nekton – neuston and to add this information on all levels where this was still missing. As a result, all aquatic Mollusca species are now assigned to one of these groups, which is an enormous step forward for the traits-part of the Aphia database! Following the functional group trait, the experts started tackling the feeding mode of Molluscs, which is now documented in detail for about 30% of the Mollusca species. Lastly, the group also paid attention to enriching MolluscaBase with good images, and plans have been made to collaborate with museums and institutions on this topic.

The organisation of the workshop and the support of the Data Management Team (DMT) are supported by LifeWatch Belgium, part of the E-Science European LifeWatch Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. LifeWatch is a distributed virtual laboratory, which is used for different aspects of biodiversity research. The Taxonomic Backbone of LifeWatch aims at bringing together taxonomic and species-related data and at filling the gaps in our knowledge. In addition, it gives support to taxonomic experts by providing them logistic and financial support for meetings and workshops related to expanding the content and enhancing the quality of taxonomic databases.

Picture: from left to right: David (Dai) Herbert, Philippe Bouchet, Leen Vandepitte (front – DMT), Bram Breure (back), Serge Gofas (front), Maxim Vinarski (back), Barna Pall-Gergely, Frank Köhler (front), Eike Neubert (back), Wim Decock (back – DMT), Ruud Bank (front), Thomas Lanssens (back – DMT), Ira Richling (front), Kevin Verfaille (DMT)

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MolluscaBase

For those who do not know it yet, some years ago it was decided that the marine species list (WoRMS) should be extended to incorporate also the land and freshwater species. This week a workshop has been held in Ostend (Belgium) to bring a number of new editors into the team of – now officially called – MolluscaBase. They include Dai Herbert, Frank Köhler, Barna Páll-Gergely, Ira Richling, Maxim Vinarski, and myself. Together with Eike Neubert and Ruud Bank we will enter newly described land and freshwater species and genera into the system, and also work on the ‘backlog’ of all pre-2018 described taxa (some have already been done).

From left to right: two members of the data management team at VLIZ, Ruud Bank, Frank Köhler, Dai Herbert.

From left to right: Barna Páll-Gergely, Ruud Bank, Eike Neubert.

From left to right: Maxim Vinarski, Ira Richling.

MolluscaBase is a taxonomically oriented database which aims to provide an authoritative, permanently updated account of all molluscan species. The basic taxonomic unit in MolluscaBase is the binomen, i.e. the combination of a genus name and a specific epithet.

Some scientists make an extensive use of subgenera and/or subspecies. Such combinations are flagged in MolluscaBase as “alternate representation”, i.e. both name strings (with/without subgenus, with/without subspecies) are taxonomically correct, but only the binomen is flagged as “accepted”.

Other status include “taxon inquirendum”, for a name which is listed from a literature source, but has not been recently re-evaluated for taxonomic validity and/or generic or familial placement, and “nomen dubium” for a name which resists revision because the description and other supporting data are deficient.

During the workshop bulk data were submitted for European and South African species, which will soon appear online. Please be patient to see all Neotropical taxa be added to the system. And if you publish new papers containing new Neotropical land and freshwater molluscs, be so kind to send me a PDF once this is available and I’ll make sure the data are added to MolluscaBase: http://www.molluscabase.org.

Workshop in human-mollusc interactions

Just received: announcement of an international workshop on human-mollusc interactions in the Paris museum January 30-February 2. More info about the programme and for free registration: http://human-mollusc-interactions.com.

If you are interested in ethnography, archeology, or shellfishing, free during those days and around Paris, it’s worth considering.

Season’s greetings

This year I continue with a thematic card based on my current research. As some of you already know, one of my projects, together with Jonathan Ablett (London museum) and Cédric Audibert (Lyon museum), is to prepare a monograph on the malacological contributions of Arthur Morelet (1809-1892). We aim to see this in print next year…
The card is inspired by this research, figuring both original figures by Morelet and some of his type material housed in the London museum. Incidentally, all species are African, and Morelet’s contribution to our knowledge on that continent’s malacofauna will be dealt with on a symposium (February 3rd, in The Hague; see http://www.spirula.nl/van-bruggen/).
My list of publications of this year can be found on my site (https://breure.wordpress.com/publications/); two scheduled for the end of the month and more to come next year…
For now, I wish all my followers a pleasant holiday season and all the best for 2018!

Nomenclature explained

Incidentally I found on the net a very useful document, explaining the use of biological (i.e. zoological) names and also of relevant articles in the ICZN Code.

Even those who are familiar with the Code can find bits of information that are enlightening. Personally I was happy to see a further explanation of Art. 11.6 which rules the names published as junior synonym (p. 68-69). As Francisco Welter-Schultes wrote to me, this is especially for malacologists a hot topic and needs further action from the Commission. But the 5th edition of the Code is only expected in 2020 or later, so in the meantime one has to cope with the situation by trying to keep nomenclature as stabile as possible.

The document can be found at http//www.gbif.org/orc/?doc_id=2784 or at https://tinyurl.com/ycgvy48v.

Mirror-image snails

It does not occur often, but in some groups mirror-snails do occur. Officially called eniantomorphy, there are several examples in Neotropical land snails (e.g., in Drymaeus and Corona species). Recently Richards et al. have publishe some interesting research on this phenomenon.

Variation in the shell coiling, or chirality, of land snails provides an opportunity to investigate the potential for “single-gene” speciation, because mating between individuals of opposite chirality is believed not possible if the snails mate in a face-to-face position. However, the evidence in support of single-gene speciation is sparse, mostly based upon single-gene mitochondrial studies and patterns of chiral variation between species. Previously, we used a theoretical model to show that as the chiral phenotype of offspring is determined by the maternal genotype, occasional chiral reversals may take place and enable gene flow between mirror image morphs, preventing speciation. Here, we show empirically that there is recent or ongoing gene flow between the different chiral types of Japanese Euhadra species. We also report evidence of mating between mirror-image morphs, directly showing the potential for gene flow. Thus, theoretical models are suggestive of gene flow between oppositely coiled snails, and our empirical study shows that they can mate and that there is gene flow in Euhadra. More than a single gene is required before chiral variation in shell coiling can be considered to have created a new species”.

This study of Japanese snails suggested that the mirror-images might be one species, which has implications for classification. Unfortunately, the situation with Neotropical left- and right-hand snails is less clear; while in some Corona species samples with both dextral and sinistral specimens are known, this is not the case in Drymaeus species. Thus in the latter case we even do not know which species might be siblings and potentially one and the same. This is a challenge for future (field) work!

Reference:
Richards, P.M. et al., 2017. Single-gene speciation: Mating and gene flow between mirror-image snails. Evolution Letters, (advance online) DOI:10.1002/evl3.31

Dutch Caribbean Species Register

Just launched: a website which contain data on the biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean, including – of course – the snails…

The announcement read:

‘For the first time ever, we present a complete overview of the known biodiversity (animals, plants, fungi) from the Dutch Caribbean: over 7.500 species. This online database is the result of an effort of Naturalis Biodiversity Center – the biodiversity research center and Dutch national natural history museum- to gather all relevant publications on the biodiversity and natural history of the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten.

We expect the species database to grow over the coming years, as Naturalis processes the results of recent expedition to e.g. Sint Eustatius, during which several species new to science were discovered.

The database contains a wide variety of information. This includes, but is not limited to: literature references, presence status per island, photos, common/local names and habitats. The checklist can be searched and filtered in several ways and can also be navigated through a taxonomic tree. Furthermore, the checklist is illustrated by a growing photo archive of over 2.000 photos of nearly 10% of the species.

Do you want to participate? We are looking for volunteer photographers with material from the area and people with knowledge of species occurring in the area. All photos and species information is validated before being published. Interested in contributing? Drop us a line at speciesregister@naturalis.nl.

We hope the Dutch Caribbean Species Register will prove to be a useful tool for nature conservation and biodiversity research in the Dutch Caribbean!’

Just a sample page of a snail species:

Note that you search in different ways and there are several outgoing links which you can further explore.