Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sea Cucumber Central! Spotlight on Systema Aspidochirotidae!

(Thelenota anais from the Image Gallery at Systema Aspidochirotidae!)
So, the other day, I got a brief email from my colleague Alex Kerr at the University of Guam which led to my examining the big NSF-sponsored Sea Cucumber Systematics Project Website Systema Aspidochirotidae.

This project, was headed by Principal Investigators Gustav Paulay at the Florida Museum of Natural History
and the aforementioned Alex Kerr.
Go here to see the NSF proposal and summary for the Partnership to Enhance & Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) and the publications produced.

The short summary is that the project aims to clean up the taxonomy and systematics of an ecologically and financially important coral-reef holothurian (=sea cucumber) group via a global coalition of experts from all around the world.

Since the project's initial funding and start in September 2005 (and ongoing) their website has undergone a HUGE development in resources, making it an important resource to anyone interested in tropical holothurians.

Web Products. So what kind of resources? Take a look at the available information including

But wait! It doesn't just include pdf original species descriptions, it ALSO has taxonomic description compendia of supraspecific taxa (genera and up). They have over 400 descriptions online with 225 more to be included by the end of summer 2009!
that look like this:
And AWESOME image gallery. Some great examples....

Polyplectana galatheae~ Guam 401-19
Polyplectana galatheae

Much remains for the group to complete-but clearly, the group has become established as the the global "sea cucumber central" information source!

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