In November 2009, the three BivAToL
PIs (Paula Mikkelsen, Rudiger Bieler, and Gonzalo Giribet) plus the three new postdocs spent a week in Florida to collect additional bivalve target species. The first half of the trip was in Ft. Pierce, largely in the Indian River Lagoon on the eastern coast of Florida, working out of the Smithsonian Marine Station. The Indian "River" is actually an estuary (and part of the Intracoastal Waterway), set off from the Atlantic Ocean by a long line of barrier islands, and punctuated by inlets. There we continued the work started in April 2009 collecting more specimens of four species (Rangia cuneata, Polymesoda caroliniana, Sphenia antillensis, Tagelus plebeius) and fully collecting three more (Crassostrea virginica from a seawall, and Phacoides pectinata, Parastarte triquetra). Two of the postdocs also had the opportunity to dissect fresh specimens for their assigned organ systems - stomachs for Temkin and gills for Staubach - which lent an informal name for this expedition: the "Gills and Guts Workshop."
Following Ft. Pierce, the three PIs spent an additional few days in the subtropical Lower Florida Keys to scuba dive on the reef and sample the shallow waters of Florida Bay. Despite the nearby passage of Hurricane Ida a few days before (which caused 15-foot seas on the reef), the weather calmed down and turned beautiful for our trip. Our dive on the spur-and-groove reef at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary off Big Pine Key was memorable, with 50-foot visibility and water temperature of 81 degrees F. Additional needed specimens of five species (Pteria colymbus, Ctenoides scabra, Petricola lapicida, Arcopsis adamsi, and Chama macerophylla) were obtained over the three days, and three additional target species were fully collected for the project (Ctenoides mitis, Lamychaena hians, Lithophaga antillarum). Our sampling in the Keys is supported by a research permit from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
~Dr. Paula Mikkelsen, Associate Director for Science, PRI
The Assembling the Tree of Life: Bivalvia project (BivAToL) is a part of the Assembling the Tree of Life initiative, a large research effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Its goal is to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of all living things.
The evolution of life is a central unifying principle of modern science, and it is integrally connected to much of our understanding of how Earth systems work and evolve. PRI's world-class collections of fossils help tell the story of the evolution of the Earth, and our programming helps educators, students, and the public understand what evolution is and how scientists study it.