Shrimp healing injured fish


This July 2018 video says about itself:

These Shrimp Are a Clean-Up Crew For Dirty Fish | Nat Geo Wild

Along this Caribbean reef, Pederson cleaner shrimp wait to feast on the parasites of these fish.

From James Cook University in Australia:

Shrimp heal injured fish

August 23, 2018

James Cook University scientists in Australia have discovered that shrimp help heal injured fish.

PhD student David Vaughan is working on a project led by Dr Kate Hutson at JCU’s Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture.

He said it was important to know how the shrimp interact with fish, as the team is in the process of identifying the best shrimp species to use to clean parasites from farmed and ornamental fish.

“Between 30 — 50% of farmed fish in Southeast Asia, the largest fish producing region in the world, are lost to parasites.

“We know that shrimp clean parasites from fish and if we can identify a species that does it efficiently, and does no harm, it offers a ‘greener’ alternative to chemicals”, he said.

Mr Vaughan said scientists knew injured fish visited shrimp ‘cleaning stations’ to have parasites removed — but the question was whether shrimp then took advantage of the injured fish and fed on their wounds. He said the relationship between cleaner shrimp and their client fish was complicated, with the shrimp known to eat the mucus of the fish and the fish occasionally eating the shrimp.

The scientists used high-definition cameras to record the details of the interaction between the species. “We found that shrimp did not aggravate existing injuries or further injure the fish”, said Mr Vaughan.

He said image analyses showed the cleaner shrimp actually reduced the redness of the injury. “Injuries in fishes are susceptible to invasion by secondary pathogens like viruses and bacteria, and the reduction in redness by shrimp indicates that cleaner shrimp could reduce infections.”

Mr Vaughan said cleaner shrimp are also known to indirectly influence the health of client fishes by reducing stress levels as a function of cleaning — which also increased the ability of the fish to heal.

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Beautiful colours in Chinese salt lake


This 1 August 2018 video says about itself:

Thousand-year-old salt lake shining like a painter’s palette in north China

Sweltering temperatures have caused a thousand-year-old salt lake to turn brilliant colours recently in Yuncheng City, north China’s Shanxi Province.

Small crustaceans, algae cause these colours in these dry circumstances.

New shrimp species named after Tolkien character Bilbo


This video says about itself:

22 February 2018

Observations on the symbiotic relationship between the caridean shrimp Odontonia sibogae (Bruce, 1972) and its ascidian host Herdmania momus (Savigny, 1816). Ya’arit Levitt-Barmats and Noa Shenkar (2018), PLOS ONE.

Now, relatives of this shrimp species have been discovered.

From ScienceDaily:

In a hole in a tunicate there lived a hobbit: New shrimp species named after Bilbo Baggins

June 7, 2018

Summary: A new species of shrimp was named after Tolkien‘s Bilbo Baggins thanks to its small size and hairy feet. The new species, Odontonia bagginsi, was described, figured and named together with another new species: Odontonia plurellicola. Both shrimps live symbiotically inside tunicates collected around Ternate and Tidore, Indonesia. In the present study anatomical and genetic character[istic]s were used to place the new species in the tree of life.

Two new species of tiny symbiotic shrimps are described, illustrated and named by biology student at Leiden University Werner de Gier as part of his bachelor’s research project, supervised by Dr. Charles H. J. M. Fransen, shrimp researcher of Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden, the Netherlands).

Inspired by the extremely hairy feet of one of the species, the authors decided that they should honour Middle Earth’s greatest halfling, Bilbo Baggins.

Aptly named Odontonia bagginsi, the new shrimp joins the lines of other species named after Tolkien‘s characters such as the cave-dwelling harvestman Iandumoema smeagol, the golden lizard Liolaemus smaug and the two subterranean spiders Ochyrocera laracna and Ochyrocera ungoliant.

The newly described shrimps were collected during the Ternate expedition to the Indonesian islands of Tidore and Ternate, organised by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in 2009.

Typically for the Odontonia species, the new shrimps do not reach sizes above a centimetre in length, and were found inside tunicates. It is believed that these symbiotic crustaceans are fully adapted to live inside the cavities of their hosts, which explains their small-sized and smooth bodies.

Unlike most Odontonia species, which live inside solitary tunicates, the new species Odontonia plurellicola was the first one to be associated with a colonial tunicate. These tunicates have even smaller internal cavities, which explains the tiny size of the new species.

To determine the placement of the new species in the tree of life, the scientists compared the shrimps’ anatomical features, including the legs, mouthparts and carapace. As a result, they were assigned to Odontonia. Further, the available genetic information and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images of the unusual feet of the newly discovered shrimp provided a new updated identification key for all members of the species group.

“Being able to describe, draw and even name two new species in my bachelor years was a huge honour. Hopefully, we can show the world that there are many new species just waiting to be discovered, if you simply look close enough!” says Werner de Gier, who is currently writing his graduate thesis at Naturalis Biodiversity Center and working together with Dr. Charles Fransen on crustaceans.

Prawns have individual personalities, new study


This 2012 video shows rockpool prawns feeding.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Cautious prawns win battle for food

June 1, 2018

Prawns have personalities — and cautious crustaceans do better in the battle for food, new research shows.

Scientists from the University of Exeter studied rockpool prawns (Palaemon elegans) and found some were consistently shy, while others were bolder.

But this bravery may come at a cost — as the risk takers tended to do worse than other prawns when competing for food.

“We found that the shyer prawns were better at controlling a food source”, said first author Daniel Maskrey, formerly of the University of Exeter but now at the University of Liverpool.

“This means that when they found food and possible rivals were nearby, they stayed and fed for longer than bolder prawns.

“The reasons for this aren’t clear, but it’s possible that bolder prawns have a higher urge to go on and continue exploring.

“We witnessed prawns fighting over food, and it could be that some use a bold exploration strategy because they favour searching for new food over competing with stronger rivals.”

Boldness was tested by repeatedly putting prawns into an unfamiliar tank and seeing how much they explored and ventured into the middle.

Dr Tom Houslay, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said the study could help scientists understand why members of one species — and even the prawns in a single rockpool — have different personalities.

“Some individuals are more successful at monopolising food, while others are more willing to engage in potentially risky exploration,” he said.

“In different conditions and situations, either of these strategies might pay off — which might explain why evolution has not led to a single personality type.

“The rockpools where these prawns live change with each high tide, and having such variation among prawns could be crucial when it comes to adapting to these and other changes.”

The prawns in the study were all from Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, and their feeding behaviour was tested using parcels of brine shrimp. Prawns were split into groups of similarly sized individuals to compete for access to food.

New deep sea crustacean species discovery


Image of a male Stygiopontius senokuchiae taken with a confocal laser microscope. This new species of copepod was discovered by Kumamoto University student, Reina Senokuchi. The white scale bar is 0.2 mm long. Credit: Photograph by Kumamoto University Associate Professor Takeshi Kitano

From Kumamoto University in Japan:

Japanese student discovers new crustacean species in deep sea hydrothermal vent

May 21, 2018

A new species of microcrustacean (Stygiopontius) was collected from a submarine hot spring (hydrothermal vent) of a volcanic seamount (Myojin-sho caldera) in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan. This crustacean group lives only around deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the central Atlantic or eastern Pacific Oceans. The new species is the first of its kind discovered in Japanese waters. Reina Senokuchi, a Kumamoto University student, was the first to make the discovery saying, “When I realized that it might be a new species, I was both delighted and very surprised. I couldn’t believe it was true.”

Portals to New Worlds

There are many hydrothermal vents in the deep waters east of Japan. The water in these vents is heated by volcanic activity under the ocean floor blown into the sea. In the vicinity of these openings, bacteria function as the primary producer of organic matter and convert mineral resources contained in the hot water into energy, a process called chemosynthesis. The organisms here are not found in any other type of environment on the planet. Some can be found in vents throughout the world’s oceans, yet others appear to live only in specific areas.

A research group headed by Associate Professor Motohiro Shimanaga of Kumamoto University studies the ecosystems of deep sea hydrothermal vents. Between 2012 and 2014, Dr. Shimanaga’s group surveyed hydrothermal vents in the calderas of three submarine volcanos in the Izu Islands (in the Izu-Bonin Arc) and collected samples of organisms to learn more about these mysterious life forms.

Research on the Pacific Rim

The area surveyed included hydrothermal vents at depths between 800 and 1400 meters in the Myojin-sho caldera, the Myojin abyssal hill, and the Bayonnaise abyssal hill, which are about 420 km south of Tokyo. Researchers mapped the areas and retrieved samples using an unmanned deep-sea sub. One of the samples included the new species of Stygiopontius, a type of copepod.

Copepods can be found all over the earth. They are ecologically important because they feed on phytoplankton and are a food source for many other creatures. Until this discovery, copepods of the genus Stygiopontius had only been found in deep sea hydrothermal vents in the center of the Atlantic and East Pacific Oceans, but not in the deep waters east of Japan.

When Ms. Reina Senokuchi, a student of Kumamoto University at that time of the study, examined the copepod from the Japan coast sample, she discovered that it had several morphological differences compared to other species of the genus Stygiopontius. Both male and female specimens of the new Stygiopontius species were found at all three investigation sites, with body lengths of 685 to 786 micrometers for females and 446 to 483 micrometers for males. Assistant Professor Daisuke Uyeno of Kagoshima University, an expert in morphological analysis of microorganisms, conducted an analysis of this tiny copepod and published a paper on the group’s findings.

The new species was named Stygiopontius senokuchiae after its discoverer Ms. R. Senokuchi. “I was very happy because I did not think it would be named before I graduated. It was definitely worth the effort to sketch out the microscopic observations”, she said upon hearing the news.

“Our next challenge is to figure out how this species adapted to the deep sea hydrothermal vent environment,” said Ms. Senokuchi’s mentor, Dr. Shimanaga. “We are also very interested in clarifying just how this species has spread from one hydrothermal zone to another, since the distances between the vents are relatively large.”

New crustacean species discovery in North Sea


Epimeria frankei

From the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany:

New species in the North Sea

Researchers describe the newly discovered amphipod Epimeria frankei using extensive mitogenomic information

May 2, 2018

Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Universities of Oldenburg and Potsdam, Germany have confirmed the existence of a new cryptic amphipod species in the North Sea. For the first time for the description of a new species, they used a level of mitogenomic information, which was normally applied in other areas of genetics. The discovery of Epimeria frankei was now published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the future, this level of molecular information could revolutionise biodiversity research.

Reports of “new species” in the North Sea, usually relate to animals or algae that were newly introduced by human activities. The discovery of a new amphipod species is proof that there are still unknown organisms lurking in the German Bight. A team of scientists around Dr Jan Beermann from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and Dr Michael J. Raupach from the University of Oldenburg, as well as colleagues from the University of Potsdam, now successfully discovered and described a previously overlooked species in the North Sea — a rare event, considering that the region is one of the best-studied seas in the world.

In the first place, AWI ecologist Beermann and Michael Raupach from the University of Oldenburg analysed so-called “DNA barcodes” of North Sea crustaceans: small genetic sequences that are a common tool in modern biodiversity research. Scientists create molecular libraries with these barcodes in order to simplify the identification of species. When Beermann and Raupach analysed their data, the researchers began to wonder whether they were dealing with only one, but two different species. “Once we had a closer look, we noticed that, for instance, some animals exhibited more pointed plates on their legs than others, but these subtle differences aren’t always easy to detect”, reports Beermann.

“The moment you realise that you’ve probably discovered a new species is fascinating and incredibly exciting. The North Sea isn’t the first place you’d expect to stumble across an unknown species — especially in a genus, which is comparably large in the North Sea with a body length of up to three centimetres, and which eye-catching colourations have also attracted the attention of earlier generations of researchers,” says Jan Beermann. The new Epimeria species was named Epimeria frankei, after Prof. Heinz-Dieter Franke, an ecologist who worked for many years at the AWI marine station at Helgoland, and who was Jan Beermann’s PhD mentor.

With the discovery and the availability of extensive information on the two species, both species had to be newly described. “In this regard we wanted to prepare species descriptions that weren’t restricted to the physical appearance but also include detailed genomic information,” explains Michael Raupach from the University of Oldenburg. “A few years ago, this would have been an extremely time-consuming. But nowadays, modern technologies make the analyses much faster and easier.”

For the descriptions, the scientists made use of the entire mitochondrial genome, using state-of-the-art decoding methodologies. In collaboration with the Genomics Team of Prof Michael Hofreiter from the University of Potsdam, they sequenced the genome with cutting-edge technologies. Classifying the importance of their work, Hofreiter and Raupach conclude: “We are the first team in the world to analyse the complete genetic material of the mitochondria, base pair by base pair, in the context of a species description.”

From the first indication to the confirmation that they truly detected a previously undiscovered amphipod species, it took the researchers more than six years. They were originally investigating the species Epimeria cornigera when they took notice of its sister species. Until then, Epimeria cornigera was commonly assumed to occur from the Mediterranean Sea to Iceland — a quite broad but possible distribution. Nevertheless, reliable information on the species’ biology was still scarce. As Jan Beermann explains, “We now know that the new species, Epimeria frankei, ranges from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, whereas the old species, Epimeria cornigera, is more restricted to the northern North Atlantic. There is a small area of overlap in the North Sea were both species can be found.” With the addition of E. frankei, the number of known Epimeria species in the north-eastern Atlantic increased to a total of five species.

This new discovery underlines that, even today, marine biodiversity can still be underestimated and that molecular methods have become an indispensable tool for modern biodiversity research. For their publication, the researchers combined various molecular genetic and morphological methods to a so-called integrated taxonomic approach (“taxonomics”). The authors are convinced that: “The successful validation of this approach confirms that, for future biodiversity research, taxonomics could also prove to be extremely important for further considerations such as marine conservation.”