Meeting Abstract

P3.100  Jan. 6  Training in Tropical Taxonomy: Training for New Investigators in the Field and Laboratory THACKER, R.W.; COLLIN, R.*; DIAZ, C.M.; LAMBERT, G; ROCHA, R; LAMBERT, C; University of Alabama at Birmingham; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Smithsonian Institution; University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories; Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brasil; University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories collinr@si.edu

The mission of the Training in Tropical Taxonomy program at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Bocas Research Station is to provide training and support for the development of taxonomic expertise throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. The primary vehicle for this training is a series of graduate-level short-courses, each focused on a different group of animals and including introductions to state-of-the-art approaches to systematics. In July 2006, 13 students representing 9 countries participated in a 12-day course on the taxonomy and ecology of Caribbean sponges and in August 2006 15 students representing 7 countries participated in a 2-week course on the taxonomy of ascidians. Both courses worked synergistically with the Smithsonian Institution's DNA Barcode initiative. Lecture material included discussions of the current taxonomy of marine sponges and tunicates, an overview of the morphological characters that differentiate families, recent developments of cytological characters, experiments examining aspects of development and physiology, and applications of molecular systematics to questions in taxonomy. Field surveys of mangrove and reef communities allowed students to gain experience with field identification and with several survey techniques. During the class instructors and students collected multiple samples of 100 sponge species and 50 tunicate species with the goal of providing proof of concept for rapidly and efficiently generating high quality DNA extractions for DNA barcoding at the point of collection. Details are available at www.stri.org/Bocas.