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Dates: June 11, 2013 - June 22, 2013
Location: Bocas del Toro Research Station
Registration Fee: $800 (includes room and board, STRI registration fee)


Dr. Ken Halanych

Dr. Anja Schulze

Course description:

Annelids comprise a major animal lineage with well over 16,000 recognized species that occupy a wide range of marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Many members of this ancient group are ecologically and economically important as ecosystem engineers, as the basis of commercial enterprises, as indicators of environmental health, as invasive or pest species and as a major component of deep sea benthic communities. As one of the few segmented phyla, annelids are key to understanding the evolution of bilaterian body plans.

The course aims to familiarize students with the diversity of marine annelids, or polychaetes.  Areas of study will include:

Overview of major annelid taxa
Annelid phylogeny
Functional morphology
Evolution of exemplary taxa
Development on the morphological and genetic level

Laboratory exercises will include:

Collection from marine environments
Morphological taxonomy
Preparation, fixation and documentation of samples for molecular and morphological work
Developing a species list for the region
Behavioral studies
Developmental studies

Student background: We expect students to have a basic familiarity with marine invertebrates and marine systems. However, the course will target graduate students early in their career. All applicants should be able to swim proficiently. The course will be taught in English.

Application: Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to before February 1st, 2013. Limit 12 students. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget. For more information see Taxonomy Training


José Eriberto de Assis

Michael Boyle

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
My broad scientific interest is the evolution of development within Metazoa. This includes a comparison of life history modes among marine invertebrates, and the study of gene expression patterns that may have important roles in the specification of particular types of cells, tissues and organ systems during animal development. My postdoctoral research is focused primarily on the development of life history diversity within Sipuncula, a distinct clade of nonsegmented, exclusively marine worms. Sipunculans provide us with unique models for gaining insights into the molecular and morphological radiation of Annelida, and the comparative evolution of body plan diversity among lophotrochozoans (Spiralia).

Vanessa Fernández Rodríguez

University of Antioquia, Colombia
I'm from Colombia and I'm finishing my studies on biology at University of Antioquia, currently I'm development my undergraduate thesis about polychaetes associated to mangroves roots in two bays of Urabá gulf (colombian caribbean) in order to compare this fauna, as well as to identify possible biological indicators of water pollutants. I'm interested to used the polychaetes as indicators of marine pollution.

Catalina Arteaga Florez

Universidad de Antioquia
I am a Master student from the Institute of Biology, Universidad de Antioquia (Medellin, Colombia), in which I am developing a thesis about the taxonomic revision and biogeographical analysis of the family Nereididae (Annelida: Polychaeta) of the organisms found in the Colombian Caribbean. My interests are taxonomy, systematics, ecology and biogeography of polychaetes, especially of the family Nereididae. In the future, I would like to work with molecular biology and ecology of polychaetes.

Magdalena Georgieva

University of Leeds
My research interests centre on ecology, evolution and conservation within the marine environment. I am currently a first year PhD student jointly between the University of Leeds and the Natural History Museum in the UK, and my project focuses on studying the morphology and ultrastructure of polychaete worm tubes from deep-sea chemosynthetic environments to understand more about their evolution.

Theresa Guggolz

Universität Hamburg, Germany
I am a MSc Student at the University of Hamburg, Germany. My research focuses on taxonomy of Polychaetes. My master thesis will deal with spionids, focusing on taxonomic, morphologic, ecologic, systematic and maybe genetic studies to find out more about the ecology of Seamounts. Besides studying I am working as a student assistant, sorting different deep-sea samples with priority on determining polychaets.

Elena Martinez García

University of Alicante, Spain
"I am a Phd student in the University of Alicante, Spain. My research is focused on the changes in benthic polychaeta assemblages due to fish farm activities. At the beginning I was very interested in ecological changes, but then I discovered taxonomy and now it is my principal goal. I study polychaeta recolonizations under different conditions. I have also experience in environmental impact of desalinization plants, studying how the brine discharge affect the marine bottom. I would like to improve my knowledge about other aspects of this group, such as evolution or phylogeny. I will be glad to share this course with other researchers with similar interests."

Elisa Paiva

Shirly Perdomo Ramos

Jorge Tadeo Lozano University
I'm a college thesis student at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogota -Colombia, I based my final document on a preliminary assessment of sessile and mobile invertebrate biota associated to artificial reefs in the Gulf of Morrosquillo in the Colombian Caribbean. That work allowed me to create a high affinity for polychaetes, now I'm working on the Coastal Marine Research Institute (INVEMAR) specifically focused on annelids, it has been a rewarding experience because I had observed samples ranging from 15 to 670 feet deep in the Colombian Caribbean, so i have experience in macrobenthic samples and meiobentics. My expectations of the course is to learn more about their identification, learn new techniques and sampling and preservation methodologies, especially i would like to find bibliographic information to support my work in taxonomy, as well as meet new people who are involved in polychaetes field.

Maria Quiroz Ruiz

University of Antioquia, Colombia
I´m a recent graduate Biologist from University of Antioquia, Colombia. I´m interested in marines invertebrates, specially in Sipunculids (recent includeds within Annelids). I did my thesis as part of the fullfiment to become biologist with the Phylum Sipuncula from an Isla Fuerte, colombian Caribbean. I identified, described and took pictures the species from the island. In addition, I did a list of sipunculids reported to date in the Great Caribbean province. I would like to make my Msc with the sistematic of the group. I want to work with the species from Great Caribbean and eastern tropical Pacific.

Erik Sperling

Harvard University, USA
I am interested in polychaetes from two perspectives. First, I am interested in the early evolution of the annelid phylum, specifically the relationship of annelids to other lophotrochozoan taxa and the early fossil record of annelids. Second, I have been using modern polychaetes as a study taxon to examine how feeding ecology changes with respect to different environmental parameters. Ultimately, the goal is to use these data from polychaetes to understand how animal feeding ecology may have changed during a hypothesized oxygenation event near the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary.

Andrey Vedenin

P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
My research interests: Taxonomy, systematic, phylogeny and evolution of marine invertebrates, particularly polychaetes; ecology of marine communities, biogeography of marine fauna.

Heidi De Guzman

Texas A&M University at Galveston
I am a PhD student in the Marine Biology Department at Texas A&M University at Galveston. My research primarily centers the study of genetic diversity of polychaete worms. Specifically, I am interested in studying the phylogeny of Sabellidae from shallow carbon dioxide vents and non-acidified control areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

Viktoria Bogantes

I am currently working on my undergraduated thesis in Zoology. My thesis is on the polychaetes of Cahuita National Park, which is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. There are more than 400 species of polychaetes reported for Costa Rica, yet there are just 6 species reported for the entire Caribbean Sea of Costa Rica The goal of my work is to develop a species list of the polychaetes of Cahuita and increase the current diversity known for this group. This course would be very useful tool to my professional development.