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Dates: August 4, 2008 - August 16, 2008
Location: Bocas Research Station, Bocas del Toro, Panamá
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin
Registration Fee: $500 (Includes room and board, STRI registration, etc) Fellowships are available.


Drs. Sammy de Grave

Oxford University

Dr. Arthur Anker


Michel Hendrickx

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mazatlan

Course description:

The course is aimed at graduate students, post-docs, or professionals who are interested in learning and applying knowledge about the diversity and ecology of one the most abundant and colourful inhabitants of coral reefs. The students participating in this course will:

  • Learn to identify common shrimps (Caridea, Dendrobranchiata and Stenopodidea) from the mangroves and shallow coral reefs of the Bocas del Toro region, many of which occur in the wider Caribbean region
  • Learn general biological and ecological characteristics of the group.
  • Gain hands-on ecological and taxonomic experience with tropical marine shrimp.
  • Learn ecological survey and sampling techniques, as well as the vital components of modern taxonomy (photography, DNA extraction).

This course seeks to give the participant the necessary tools to continue studies on the taxonomy and /or ecology of shrimps. The course will last 12 days, and is primarily targeted at taxonomic training, including the characteristics and identification of the various shrimp families and genera at Bocas del Toro, many of which will be identified to species. The main focus will be on modern taxonomy, using field collecting, morphological work, photography and genetic relationships. Other topics to be covered are current classification, the phylogenetic framework of Decapoda, ecology, as well as lectures on aquaculture, commercial fishing and the aquarium trade. Also included will be an independent project either of the participants choice or in consultation with the instructors, with students presenting their work on the final day. Daily activities will include: morning and afternoon lectures, a field trip, lab work, and discussion sections or talks.


Betel Martinez

Universidad del Mar
My research interests is on caridean shrimps. Recently I worked on my thesis project with faunistic caridean shrimps of the Southern Pacific of Mexico. By consequently I think that this course is important for my academic formation in the group of carideans. I have read many papers and documents about carideans from Eastern Pacific and I will like expand my knowledge and have more precisely information. Other of my personal interests is introducing to topics taxonomic about caridean shrimps (e.g. colour, morphology, systematics, etc.) and may be specialize in the future on some problems associated with the group. After my bachelour thesis. I like follow master studies, apply integration of traditional taxonomy and molecular techniques.

Chris Ashelby

University of Hull
I currently employed full time by Unicomarine Ltd who are an environmental consultancy specialising in the identification of marine macrobenthos. Although this work allows me the opportunity to work on all groups of macrobenthos my main interest is in shrimps and I recently enrolled for a part time a Ph.D., through the Centre for Coastal Studies, University of Hull. The Ph.D. aims to revise the genus Palaemon and primarily focuses on morphological taxonomy. Palaemon are found worldwide in warm and temperate regions in fresh, brackish and salt water and there is strong evidence from previous studies that the genus is not monophyletic. Relationships within the genus and with other related genera will be investigated.

Juan Felipe Lazarus Agudelo

ECOMANGLARES – Universidad del Valle
I am a researcher associated to ECOMANGLARES (Group in Ecology of Estuaries and Mangroves) Universidad del Valle (Cali - Colombia), studying the ecology of decapod crustaceans from the Pacific coast of Colombia. I am also interested in the isopod and decapod fauna from my country. I have worked with crustaceans since 2001, first as a monitor of the crustacean collection in my university, and then developed my bachelor thesis in porcelain crabs. Currently I am participating in the research project “Biodiversidad de estadíos| de vida vulnerable de organismos marinos en Bahía Málaga (Pacífico colombiano) como criterio de conservación: Evaluación de la heterogeneidad de ambientes en la reproducción y el reclutamiento” were we will implement some friendly methods with the environment (artificial substrata, light traps). Our goal is to identify the importance of Bahía Málaga in the recruitment and reproduction of marine invertebrates and in the means to generate information that will help declare Bahía Málaga as a Marine Protected Area. I want to continue working with crustaceans of the Eastern Tropical Pacific specially from Colombia.

Jure Jugovic

PhD Thesis: Cave shrimps Troglocaris aggr. anophthalmus (Crustacea: Decapoda: Atyidae), species and racial differentiation in Dinaric karst. Freshwater cave shrimps of Troglocaris anophthalmus (Kollar) “species” are important elements of troglobiotic fauna in biotical extremely rich Dinaric karst (SE Europe), including my home country Slovenia. In our research group I am working on taxonomy of a series of molecular independent, but closely related clades of genus Troglocaris, “Anophtalmus” lineage (Zakšek et al., 2007) and I am trying to define these clades morphologically. Therefore I would like to improve my taxonomical knowledge of Caridea and getting familiar with morphological characters that are most used in taxonomy of Caridea.

Laura Anderson

University of Southern Mississippi
I am a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi. My thesis project examines mate choice and honest sexual communication in the bigclaw snapping shrimp, Alpheus heterochaelis. I am attempting to determine if larger body size and the ability to occupy a shelter are honest signals that are positively correlated with higher sperm numbers and/or a larger amount of seminal fluid as represented by vas deferens weight. An additional project on which I am working is a morphological description of a new species of thermosbaenacean, a small stygobitic peracaridean crustacean.

Lucas Simon Torati

Universidade de São Paulo
I am a biologist with interests turned into Atyidae taxonomy and systematics. I’m currently studying an Atyidae genus, reviewing its taxonomy, and investigating its systematics with a morphological, larval and molecular approach. I believe the course will be a great opportunity to enrich my research, and a learning experience on morphology, shrimp diversity and related matters. Also, it’ll be an excellent environment to trade experiences with other researchers in this field.

Nuno Simoes

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Dr. Nuno Simoes is a broadly trained marine biologist and ecologist with a particular interest in field studies on coral reefs and coastal areas of the Yucatan peninsula of the Gulf of Mexico. He worked on the GEF Biodiversity Project of Socotra Island, Yemen, on several research projects in Mozambique and Portugal, and is now based at the Unidad Multidisciplinaria de Docencia e Investigación (UMDI-Sisal) of the Department of Sciences at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Yucatan, since 2002. His main research interests encompass evolution, diversity, ecology, physioecology, behavior and functional morphology of marine decapod crustaceans (mainly shrimp and crabs), as well as reproduction of marine ornamental species. His current research aims at a better understanding of the symbiotic relations between shrimp and their anemone hosts, reproduction and behavior of ornamental cleaner shrimp, predator-prey interactions between shrimp and portunid crabs, dynamic modeling of penaeid shrimp growth.

Timothy Page

Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University in Brisbane
I work as a postdoc at the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University in Brisbane. My project is to use comparative phylogeography of freshwater fish and invertebrates as a surrogate for the evolutionary divergence of the biota from different catchments. This is important because we are in the middle of a big drought and there are plans to pipe water between different areas. This could have very adverse conservation implications if the populations from the different areas are really separate cryptic species or evolutionarily significant units, as has proven to be the case in a number of studies that we have already done. Extinctions can result if isolated populations are mixed artificially. The reason this shrimp course peaked my interest is that, in the process of doing my PhD, I identified a large number of cryptic or undescribed species within the freshwater shrimp family Atyidae using genetics, in particular within the genus Caridina (various papers at this website). When we took our genetically identified “species” to a shrimp taxonomist, he was able to identify clear characters between them that previously had appeared as “intraspecific” variation, and so various methods can work together. Without a proper description and a name, a species doesn’t really exist in any practical sense, and so I hope to learn some of these taxonomic skills so our molecular species can pass from solely residing on GenBank to a wider audience of ecologists, taxonomists and others.

Leslie Harris

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Collections Manager, Allan Hancock Foundation Polychaete Collection, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Polychaetes are my primary focus but I've always had a great fondness for crustaceans. During biodiversity surveys I've had the good fortune to work along side people like our instructors Sammy and Art, and Jody Martin, which often meant I was collecting & processing more shrimp than polychaetes. I realized that if I knew more about them I would be more successful in collecting them, in field identifying them, and in producing images that will convey the maximum amount of taxonomic information. Field samples often sit unsorted for months or years until someone has the time or interest to curate the samples. If I am able to identify them in the field this will result in them being available sooner to researchers. Accurate photographs of living animals are becoming increasingly valuable as scientists realize the importance of color patterns to taxonomy. For non-specialists color patterns are the primary way in which they can identify shrimp. There are still only a few people who both collect and take photos so the color patterns can be accurately matched to a species. Still fewer people make their photos freely available to others. My main purpose in taking images of marine invertebrates is precisely to make them available for any non-commercial use that advances research, education, and public awareness.

Carolina Rodrigues Tavares

Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Brazil
I am a Ph.D. student at Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Brazil working with Dendrobranchiata taxonomy since 2003. Now I am developing a phylogeny of Dendrobranchiata, and as a part of my Ph.D. research project I will still prepare a phylogeny of Solenoceridae family. Although my work was always focused on Dendrobranchiata taxonomy, I am also interested in gain experience in identifying other shrimp groups and to train in areas as ecology and in techniques as molecular biology and photography that I am not very familiar with. In addition, work with Caribbean material will be a great experience, certainly helpful in improving my specialization skills.

Patricio Hernaez

Universidad de Costa Rica
I am a marine biologist and I am currently studying in the graduate program at the University of Costa Rica. My research program focuses on three main lines of work: (1) life history of marine decapods (2) reproductive biology, and (3) ecology applied to fishery management and marine conservation. My current research projects are focused on population demography of deep-water shrimp, its spatial distribution and reproductive ecology. Additionally, I am working on population and reproductive biology of cryptic species and their mating systems. I am sure that this taxonomy course will contribute positively on the achievement of the goals of my thesis research and other academic training projects.

Javier Luque

STRI Fellow
My general research interest is in the evolutionary patterns of decapods crustaceans, their ecology and biogeography through study of fossil and living organisms. My goal is to better understand why some of the most widely distributed and ecologically successful decapod taxa became extinct and why others have remained successful. I am a Geologist, focused on Paleontology and Neontology of crabs and shrimps, their taxonomy, ecology and evolution. Through the determination of the taxonomical affinity of a fossil, we are able to understand better its relationship with the environment via the knowledge of ecology and systematics of extant groups.

Nicola C. Dobson