Archive for 11/08/2011

Jeremy Hance –

Researchers with the Smithsonian have catalogued almost as many crab species on tropical coral reef bits measuring just 20.6 square feet (6.3 square meters) as in all of Europe’s seas, finds a new paper in PLoS ONE.

The team used DNA barcoding to quickly identify a total of 525 crustaceans (including 168 crab species) from dead coral chunks taken from seven sites in the tropics, including the Indian, Pacific and Caribbean oceans.

“Given the complexity and extent of the world’s coral reefs, the survey covered only a very limited depth and habitat range,” said Laetitia Plaisance lead author with of the Smithsonian and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“And yet we have so many more species than we ever expected.” Highlighting the diversity of life found in coral ecosystems, over a third of the species encountered by researchers were only found once, while 81 percent were only found in one location.

“The finding of such large numbers of species in a small total area suggests that coral reef diversity is seriously under-detected using traditional survey methods, and by implication, underestimated,” the authors write, adding that extrapolating from coral and fish diversity may have pushed scientists to underestimate the full biodiversity of coral reefs.

In their case, DNA barcoding allowed the researchers to quickly determine diversity. “DNA barcoding provides a standardized, cost-effective method of coming to grips with the staggering diversity of the world’s oceans,” said Nancy Knowlton with the Smithsonian and co-author of the survey.

“It has enormous potential for use in broad global surveys, allowing us to find out what is living in the ocean now, and to keep track of it in the future.”

The researchers found that site in the Indo-Pacific west region were the most biodiverse, while the Caribbean was the least, which goes along with what is generally known about coral reef diversity.

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Laurie K. Blandford – 

In a year where Navy SEALs dominated news, staff at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum expects the 26th annual Muster to be bigger and better than ever.

Capt. Michael Howard, a retired SEAL and executive director of the museum on North Hutchinson Island, said he expects a record-breaking 15,000 people from across the world at this year’s Veteran’s Day weekend event.

And he said the number of visitors to the museum, which is climbing each year, also should break records this year.

Howard expects more people than ever at the Muster because former presidential candidate Ross Perot is speaking.

Osama bin Laden also was killed by SEALs and 18 SEALs were killed on a rescue mission in Afghanistan.

“We think for all those reasons combined,” Howard said, “it’s going to be a very special Muster.”

Howard said the Muster has never had a celebrity as big as Perot speak. Past guest speakers include a four-star admiral, a congressman, an assistant secretary of the Navy and Capt. Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by pirates and saved by SEALs in an orange lifeboat now housed at the museum.

Perot, who graduated from the Naval Academy and is a supporter of the special operations community, is a life member of the museum but never visited it. Howard said Perot responded yes faster than any other speaker.

“We’re real excited about it,” Howard said. “He’s a great American and a great patriot and a great success.” After the museum announced Perot as the guest speaker, Howard said he received many phone calls and visits from people making sure it’s true.

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