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International Marine Bivalve Workshop

Florida Keys, 2002

International Marine Bivalve Workshop, Florida Keys, 2002

A 12-day workshop on marine bivalves, with an emphasis on systematics, anatomy, and natural history, was held in the Florida Keys in Summer 2002 to further knowledge of living marine bivalves and to train students in this understudied field of modern malacology. Supported by the NSF-PEET Marine Bivalve Project, 12 invited expert scientists from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the U. S. worked one-on-one in teams with a similarly diverse group of 12 graduate-level students chosen competitively from almost 50 applicants.

Organizing Team
Dr. Paula Mikkelsen, American Museum of Natural History, New York
Dr. Rüdiger Bieler, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Dr. Russell Minton, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Ms. Isabella Kappner, Field Museum of Natural History and University of Illinois at Chicago
Ms. Louise Crowley, American Museum of Natural History and City University of New York
Ms. Juri Miyamae, American Museum of Natural History, New York, and Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania


 


Why the Keys?

The workshop was held at the Keys Marine Laboratory in the city of Layton on Long Key, about half-way down the tropical Florida Keys island chain. The laboratory is a well- equipped full-service laboratory and education center focusing on south Florida marine environments, and allowed us to pursue another objective of the workshop - to increase knowledge of the molluscan fauna of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).

The Florida Keys are home to a unique set of ecosystems including the only living coral reefs in the continental United States. Yet despite a century of avid shell collecting and molluscan research in the Keys, Levy et al. (in "Site Characterization for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Environs," Nature Conservancy, 1996) noted, "except for a few ecological inventories that include mollusks, there is a lack of comprehensive, ecosystem-wide species inventories in the Florida Keys." Coral reef conservation efforts stress corals, sponges, algae, and fish, and except for a few members of the "charismatic macrofauna" (such as the Queen Conch Strombus gigas and the Flamingo Tongue Cyphoma gibbosum), regularly ignore mollusks and other invertebrates. This deficiency is acutely sensed since the establishment of the FKNMS in 1990. Seeking to preserve, protect, and restore the marine habitats associated with the Florida Keys Reef Tract, the Sanctuary is faced with a lack of knowledge about this important invertebrate group - they do not know what mollusks are present now, how many species or populations have been lost, and what the remaining species require to survive.

Their own Draft Management Plan written in 1995 listed only 630 marine species. Through original fieldwork, extensive library research, and museum collection surveys, the list has nearly tripled to almost 1,600 species. Approximately 400 of these species are bivalves [see “Marine bivalves of the Florida Keys: discovered biodiversity,” by P. M. Mikkelsen and R. Bieler, in: The Evolutionary Biology of the Bivalvia, E. M. Harper, et al., eds., Geological Society, London, Special Publication 177: 367-387 (2000)].

 


Research Teams:

The 12 invited scientists included a mix of dedicated bivalvologists plus relatively new “cross-overs” from other molluscan groups. Their specialties ranged from phylogenetic systematics, to functional morphology, molecular biology, ecology, and faunal survey. The students were equally varied, from a wide range of academic training and background. The international mix was also phenomenal, encompassing 17 countries of origin and nationality.

Project: Functional morphology and population structure of Asaphis deflorata (Psammobiidae)
Dr. Osmar Domaneschi, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
Ms. Elizabeth Shea, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, USA

Project: Anatomical studies in Lucinidae
Dr. Emily Glover, The Natural History Museum, London
Ms. Melita Peharda, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Project: Anatomical studies in Tellinidae
Dr. José Leal, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, Sanibel, Florida, USA
Ms. Amy Maxmen, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Project: Anti-predation devices in Chione elevata (Veneridae)
Dr. Brian Morton, University of Hong Kong, China
Ms. Martina Knapp, University of Vienna, Austria

Project: Anatomical and systematic studies in Ostreidae
Dr. Diarmaid Ó Foighil, University of Michigan, USA
Ms. Lisa Kirkendale, University of Florida, USA

Project: Anatomical and population studies of Arcopsis adamsi (Noetiidae)
Dr. Graham Oliver, National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
Ms. Johanna Järnegren, Trondhjem Biological Station, Norway

Project: Systematic studies in Isognomonidae
Dr. Jay Schneider, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Ms. Joanne Dougherty, Villanova University, Pennsylvania, USA

Project: Systematic studies of rock-boring bivalves (especially Petricolidae)
Mr. Paul Valentich Scott, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, California, USA
Ms. Grete Dinesen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Project: Comparative morphology of Barbatia species (Arcidae)
Dr. Luiz Simone, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
Mr. Anton Chichvarkhin, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok

Project: Systematic studies in Chamidae
Dr. Gerhard Steiner, University of Vienna, Austria
Mr. Matthew Campbell, Indiana University, USA

Project: Reproductive biology in Lucinidae
Dr. John Taylor, The Natural History Museum, London
Mr. Gregorio Bigatti, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Project: Systematic studies of Brachidontes species (Mytilidae)
Dr. Richard Willan, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Australia
Mr. Kyle Bennett, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA


Workshop Activities:

To facilitate pre-workshop preparation, each invited scientist pre-selected a family-level taxonomic group from a list of taxa that would be readily available in the Keys. Adjustments were made during the first few days in the field, based on initial collections, and work began in earnest. Daily field activities by boat or car/van caravan included scuba dives to coral or patch reefs, snorkeling and sieving in seagrass beds and sand flats, hammering intertidal and subtidal rocks (for borers and cementing bivalves), and wading exposed flats at low tide. Trips were catered to the team needs, often resulting in small groups simultaneously going in three to five different directions, with several of the most productive sights seeing repeated visits. On return from the field, specimens were sorted and labeled in the KML wet lab, set up in running seawater tanks, and later brought to the dry lab to be subjected to dissection, microscopical study, and other techniques.

Most evenings included one or more after-dinner presentations. Billy Causey, Superintendent of the FKNMS, presented an orientation lecture about the Sanctuary and its activities. For three succeeding nights, each scientist presented an informal talk about his/her research. At the end of the workshop, for an additional three successive nights, the students presented the results of their team research during the workshop.

During the workshop, several other scientist teams in the area or concurrently using the Keys Marine Laboratory facility took part in our evening programs and interacted with workshop participants. These included Tom Frankovitch and Laura Reynolds (graduate students in benthic ecology, University of Virginia), Dr. David Pawson (Curator of Echinoderms, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History) and his field assistants, and Dr. Joseph Lopez (Biomedical Division, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) and his students enrolled in a sponge taxonomy workshop. Also during this event, a press release to local newspapers resulted in coverage by the local Keynoter newspaper; subsequent to the workshop, several participants wrote articles for their own institutional newsletters.

Two social excursions gave the participants a more complete “taste” of the Florida Keys. An afternoon “Bergfest” barbeque at historic Pigeon Key (at the mid-point of the famous Seven-Mile bridge) was a welcome break at the half-way mark of the workshop, punctuated by an historical lecture and tour by the Pigeon Key Historical Foundation, chatting with visiting Keys researchers, plus additional collecting in the surrounding shallows. At the end of the workshop, we traveled to Key West for a day of shopping and site-seeing, stopping first for a tour of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Tropical Research on Summerland Key. Capping off the evening was a sunset cruise aboard the historic sailing vessel, “Western Union.”

Collections were supported by permits from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (educational event permit FKNMS-2002-079), the State of Florida (individual saltwater fishing licenses to all participants), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP 5-02-43; for Long Key and Bahia Honda State Parks), and Pigeon Key Foundation.


Workshop Results:

Field activities at the workshop resulted in 48 numbered stations and 117 bivalve species. Participants lent their collective expertise to revising taxonomy of the local bivalves, contributing nearly 1,300 new occurrence records, and adding or resurrecting three species to the previously recognized species list of Florida Keys bivalves.

The unique format of the workshop was showcased in a talk for a special session, PEET Meets Molluscan Taxonomy, at the American Malacological Society meeting, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Manuscripts were published in a dedicated volume of peer-reviewed papers in the scientific journal Malacologia.

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