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Widespread Distributed Glass-Sponges Project

Sponges are key components of benthic ecosystems, including those in the deep-sea. Many deep-sea sponges exhibit widespread distributions, this being the case for the glass sponges, Aphrocallistes beatrix and Farrea occa (both with records to the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans). 

‘Why such widespread distribution?’, ‘Are they not impacted by the biogeographic barriers between those areas?’ and/or ‘Are we underestimating the biodiversity encompassed by these species names; are their morphological differentiations across their distributions truly intraspecific variation?’ These are the questions that drive this project.

This project was established with the purpose of to understand patterns of evolution and distribution of A. beatrix and F. occa, characterizing the genetic structure and morphologic phenotypes of both species (or species complexes). In order to collect enough samples to fully characterize the diversity of these widespread species, specimens from all ocean basins are needed. To make this possible, we would be very grateful if you could keep an eye out for the species, and please follow these instructions to collect or separate them (if you have samples in a scientific collection):

  1. A fragment of 3 to 5 cm (1 – 2 inches) of each specimen (if you are able to collect more than one per locality, which is ideal).

  2. Geographic data: Ocean, region, locality, coordinates, depth and collected date of each one.

  3. Provide photos (in situ and whole specimen) if possible.

  4. After collection, fix each sample in (>85%) ethanol.

This is a partnership project between the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - NMNH (Dr. Cristiana Castello-Branco and Dr. Allen Collins), NOAA’s National Systematics Lab, and the Museu Nacional of Rio de Janeiro - MNRJ (Dr. Eduardo Hajdu). Please, contact us if you have questions and if you are able to send samples to Smithsonian NMNH.

Also, we would like your name, email and institution, to acknowledgment in our work. Thanks for helping us make this project possible!

#TeamGlassSponges: About
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