Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Biodiversity Spotlight on: The NMNH Invertebrate Zoology Department!

This week a departure from the weekly echinoblogging to spotlight some people behind the biodiversity of marine invertebrates! (although that is a very photogenic Protoreaster lincki on the cover!)

A few weeks ago Ward Appeltans, who was the project manager for the massive World Registry of Marine Species database (here) collected and presented 121 contributors of various marine species, including some plants, protozoans and chromistans, fungi, some chordates and a WHOLE bunch of invertebrates!
The link to the paper is here. I believe it is open access until January 2013.

There are a lot of digests and news articles about this including these:
Discovery News
e!Science News

But of course in a "big picture" treatment, one often lacks some detail so I thought I would spotlight a department with which I was most familiar:  Invertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History!
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Eight out of the 121 contributors of the paper (that's about 6%) are residents/associates/employees of  the Invertebrate Zoology Dept. at the National Museum of Natural History!!(part of the Smithsonian Institution)
Top: Jon Norenburg (worms), Dennis Opresko (antipatharians aka black corals), Stephen Cairns (scleractinians and gorgonians)
Middle: Rafael Lemaitre (anomuran crabs), Kristian Fauchald (polychaetes)
Lower: T. Chad Walter (copepods), Marilyn Schotte (isopods)
Bottom: Me (starfish)
6 % may not seem like a lot, but it is the largest contribution of the 95 different organizations which participated.  Only the Dept. of Marine Zoology at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands had the 2nd highest number of contributors (n=7)

A look at the number of records modified per taxonomic editor below. Several of the largest contributors are persons from the NMNH!
This graph from the WoRMS statistics page
Among the names and numbers!
Chris Mah with 6,060
Marilyn Schotte with 14, 384
Chad Walter with 27, 508
and Kristian Fauchald with a whopping 36, 480 records!!

Here's which Marine Invertebrate Databases and/or taxa they oversee..

Kristian Fauchald (lead editor: Geoff Read): World Polychaeta Database and Twitter: @WPolyDB
Chad Walter (with Geoff Boxshall): World of Copepod Database! 
Dennis Opresko: WoRMS-the Antipatharia (black corals)
Chris Mah:  World Asteroidea Database (starfishes and sea stars)

Some Neat Factoids about the NMNH Invertebrate Zoology Dept.

  • The Collection includes a representative of every recognized animal phylum, including the two most recently recognized-the Loricifera and the Cycliophora! 
  • You can always check the holdings by going to the online catalog here! 
  • The dept. has over ONE MILLION cataloged specimens in its database! 
  • IZ oversees one of, if not the largest collection of Antarctic invertebrates in North America. Here is the USARP page!
  • IZ currently hosts 10 active on-staff research zoologists whose interests range from deep-sea cucumbers, freshwater mollusks, midwater polychaete worms, to barcoding and understanding tropical biodiversity.
  • Go Check out the IZ Twitter page:  @InvertebratesDC

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