Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

2010 Courses:
Meiofauna Diversity and Taxonomy
7 - 18 June, 2010
Bocas Reseach Station, Bocas del Toro, Panama
List of participating experts

Jon Norenburg, NMNH
Rachel Collin, STRI


Course Description

Meiofauna is loosely defined as animals capable of passing through a 0.5-mm mesh. Those associated with various marine sediments include entire phyla (such as kinorhynchs and gastrotrichs), entire major clades of other invertebrate phyla (especially among the arthropods, nematodes, annelids and platyhelminthes), as well as miniaturized representatives of most other animal phyla. Meiofauna probably accounts for well in excess of half the diversity present in complex biotopes such as coral reefs, with most but not all of it associated with sediments. While the great phylum and class level diversity of meiofauna is well-known, the genus and species-level diversity remains largely un-explored and un-documented. Previous, mostly morphological studies of meiofauna have led to groundbreaking insights about evolution, adaptation, and functional biology (e.g., adhesive and sensory structures), as well as fundamental insights into the evolution of the major animal groups in the tree of life.
This course is designed to orient participants to the vast biodiversity of tropical marine meiofauna through field and laboratory work. Specifically, it takes a taxon-survey approach to emphasize the development or enhancement of practical skills essential for collection, identification, characterization and preservation of meiofauna and development of EOL content. Sampling forays in diverse environments on protected and exposed shorelines throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago will complement morphological and molecular investigations in the laboratory.
Morphological investigation will emphasize the preparation of specimens for microscopic examination and sorting to the level possible with light microscopy. Participants will contribute to the development of the bilingual Bocas del Toro Biodiversity Inventory and developing pages for the Encyclopedia of Life.
Molecular investigation will emphasize sampling and preservation of material for subsequent analysis of DNA sequences for barcoding, phylogenetic and biogeographical studies. Data derived from this part of the class will contribute to the Bocas del Toro Barcode of Life Project.
Most field sites can be sampled by snorkeling (0-10m depths), but optional SCUBA diving opportunities (for appropriately certified individuals see: SI Scientific Diving Program) will be available. The course will be taught in English.


Application Procedure

This course is directed towards graduate students and advanced Licenciado candidates and will be conducted in English. Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to Rebecca Rissanen at RissanenJ@si.edu before March 1, 2010. Limit 12 students. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget. For more information see Taxonomy Training.


Course Registration Fee

$600 (Includes room and board, STRI registration, etc)
Some Fellowships will be available

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