Submission Type

Poster

Start Date

22-4-2020 12:00 AM

Abstract

With the high diversity of life on Earth, new species are constantly being discovered. Every species goes through a taxonomic classification process to determine its place in the tree of life. Taxonomy involves examining the morphology of each species and describing its features. However, multiple species can share morphological characteristics, making it difficult to distinguish one species from another based on visual clues alone. Therefore, genetic data can provide powerful insights into relationships between species. Snailfishes (Family Liparidae) live in cold and temperate ocean waters from the intertidal zone to the deep sea. Snailfishes share morphological characteristics including scaleless, tadpole-like bodies and commonly a ventral suction disk, yet they can vary by environment. In this study, we focus on three deep-sea snailfishes that were caught in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, off California. Using micro-CT (microcomputed tomography) scans and physical measurements, we compared characteristics such as body ratios and fin ray counts. We then sequenced barcode genes to position these species in a phylogenetic context. By comparing the morphological and genetic data from our unknown snailfish species to those known, we can discover if they indeed constitute new species, furthering our understanding of the vast biodiversity in our oceans.

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Sponsored by Dr. Mackenzie Gerringer

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Apr 22nd, 12:00 AM

160— Classification of unknown deep-sea snailfishes through morphological and genetic evidence

With the high diversity of life on Earth, new species are constantly being discovered. Every species goes through a taxonomic classification process to determine its place in the tree of life. Taxonomy involves examining the morphology of each species and describing its features. However, multiple species can share morphological characteristics, making it difficult to distinguish one species from another based on visual clues alone. Therefore, genetic data can provide powerful insights into relationships between species. Snailfishes (Family Liparidae) live in cold and temperate ocean waters from the intertidal zone to the deep sea. Snailfishes share morphological characteristics including scaleless, tadpole-like bodies and commonly a ventral suction disk, yet they can vary by environment. In this study, we focus on three deep-sea snailfishes that were caught in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, off California. Using micro-CT (microcomputed tomography) scans and physical measurements, we compared characteristics such as body ratios and fin ray counts. We then sequenced barcode genes to position these species in a phylogenetic context. By comparing the morphological and genetic data from our unknown snailfish species to those known, we can discover if they indeed constitute new species, furthering our understanding of the vast biodiversity in our oceans.

 

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