Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Surveys Of Larval-stage Organisms Suggest Marine Biodiversity Is Greatly Underestimated

Date:
May 15, 2006
Source:
Boston University
Summary:
To date, surveys of species diversity in the world's oceans have focused on adult organisms, but new research from Boston University has found that studying marine life in its larval phase with DNA barcoding is a valuable way to estimate biodiversity.

There is a push to document the biodiversity of the world within 25 years. However, the magnitude of this challenge is not well known, especially when it comes to vast and often inaccessible marine environments. To date, surveys of species diversity in the world's oceans have focused on adult organisms, but new research from Boston University has found that studying marine life in its larval phase with DNA barcoding is a valuable way to estimate biodiversity.

Related Articles


Using this novel approach, Paul Barber, an assistant professor of biology at BU, discovered that biodiversity is greatly underestimated in the region of the Pacific known as the "Coral Triangle" and in the Red Sea. The study, which focused on coral reef-dwelling mantis shrimp (stomatopods), is the first to compare larval stage organisms to adults.

Through DNA barcoding -- a new method not commonly used in aquatic settings -- Dr. Barber and his colleague, Sarah Boyce of Harvard University, compared the DNA sequences of a random sampling of stomatopod larvae to a sequence database of most known mature species of mantis shrimp. The comparisons revealed numerous new varieties of shrimp that are completely unknown in their adult forms.

"Our results show that biodiversity in mantis shrimp in these regions is estimated to be at least 50 to 150 percent higher than presently believed," said Barber. "Given that few groups of marine organisms are as well studied as mantis shrimp, the biodiversity in other groups is likely even more poorly known. What's unique about this study is that we didn't just discover new species, we used DNA barcoding to quantify how much biodiversity is out there that we don't know about."

According to Barber, the results suggest that examining marine life in the larval stage offers a new and highly effective way to estimate biodiversity since most organisms have a developmental phase where minute larvae disperse on ocean currents.

"For some groups of organisms, scientists can more easily collect larvae for sampling since the habitats of the mature marine species can be totally unreachable," said Barber. "This method gives us a better idea of how well we know a particular area. There may be parts of the world that we think we know a lot about, like the Caribbean for example, but the sequencing of larva there may uncover countless more species that we never knew existed."

In addition to an alternative way to explore marine biodiversity, Barber hopes the findings will promote conservation. Despite being considered a "biodiversity hotspot," the Coral Triangle is one of the most threatened marine environments in the world. Often areas with particularly high rates of biodiversity are targeted for conservation, so the new method could help by highlighting potential regions for protection.

Barber also believes this new information will move scientists one step closer to the goal of documenting the entire world's species, both in aquatic and terrestrial settings.

Recently published online, the study will appear in the August 7, 2006 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Boston University's Marine Biology Program is located in Woods Hole, MA, on Cape Cod. The site provides faculty and students with access to diverse estuarine and marine habitats and the opportunity to conduct research involving tidal, deep-ocean, and salt marsh environments. Faculty also maintain field research programs worldwide, including the central Pacific, the Caribbean, the interior of Mexico as well as the Gulf of California off the Baja Peninsula, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Red Sea.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Boston University. "Surveys Of Larval-stage Organisms Suggest Marine Biodiversity Is Greatly Underestimated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515001005.htm>.
Boston University. (2006, May 15). Surveys Of Larval-stage Organisms Suggest Marine Biodiversity Is Greatly Underestimated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515001005.htm
Boston University. "Surveys Of Larval-stage Organisms Suggest Marine Biodiversity Is Greatly Underestimated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515001005.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins