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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.

Made with Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.

05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net

Fri 12 Nov 2004

"Marine life bounty off Philippines"

Category : news

The Panglao project is reported in the Straits Times today, giving clue to why the museum has had many crustacean visitors recently. The Raffles Museum is the crustacean specimen centre for sorting and taxonomic work.

"Marine life bounty off Philippines - S'pore experts in team which finds 1,200 species; dozens are new." By Chang Ai-lien, The Straits Times, 12 Nov 2004 [pdf].

An international team of researchers, including Singapore experts, have discovered 1,200 species of prawns, crabs and lobsters, several dozen of which are new, during a recent discovery trip to the Philippines.

'Nothing of this scale has ever been done in this part of the world before,' said Associate Professor Peter Ng, the director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore.

'The number of new species uncovered will change the perception of marine biodiversity in the Philippines and the region,' he added.

The Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project 2004 took place over six hectic weeks ending in July, with 70 scientists from all over the world arriving ready to dive, dredge and trawl for maritime bounty. The project was headed by French researcher Philippe Bouchet, a senior professor at the National Museum of Natural History in France, in cooperation with Dr Danilo Largo, chairman of the biology department at the University of San Carlos, Cebu, and Prof Ng. It was sponsored by multinational energy company Total.

The focus on coral reefs was because they are the biologically richest ecosystems on earth. Of the 275,000 marine species recorded so far, one-third of the close to 200,000 found living in tropical seas call the reefs home. And the global inventory of marine biodiversity is far from complete, with about 1,800 new species discovered every year.

The southern island of Panglao was chosen because it contains a wide variety of species, living in many diverse environments. Said Prof Ng: 'The number we found is staggering, especially in a relatively small area. It just boggles the mind to imagine what the many other islands of the Philippines hold, or the island-rich archipelagoes like Indonesia, for that matter.' He has so far discovered among the specimens 16 new species of crabs, 12 new species of hermit crabs, several new lobsters, about two dozen new shrimps and 15 new mantis shrimps.

Another expedition member, Dr Tan Swee Hee, explained how the specimens were collected. 'We made use of local expertise, getting fishermen to set nets and traps on reef walls and using boats to dredge areas up to 100m deep,' said the curator of crustacea at the Raffles Museum. At the same time, divers vacuumed the sea bed and brushed coral reefs to get at tiny creatures living within. 'We used all available methods, working day and night for six weeks. 'The material came in almost non-stop. The sheer intensity was amazing,' he said.

Researchers at the museum are still sifting through the contents they brought home - 14 drums full of crustaceans, added the third Singapore member, NUS PhD student Joelle Lai.

The collection did not disappoint. About 1,200 different species of crabs and shrimps were collected around Panglao - a phenomenal number considering that Japan has only about 1,600 different species in total, said Prof Ng.

Among the creatures were numerous newly discovered animals, mainly tiny slugs, shrimps, or crabs just a few millimetres in size. The bigger specimens included a crab that was so well camouflaged it looked like an ordinary rock. This extensive collection is now being studied by experts from more than a dozen different countries.

Posted at 8:50AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Tue 12 Oct 2004

Ilse, Shane, Boris & Maurice

Category : visitors

Ilse Bartsch (Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt a.M., Germany) is here from 24 Sep-13 Oct 2004 to to study the systematics and taxonomy of marine mites (Acari: Halacaridae) in the collection. During her stay, she also delivered a talk on "Mites (Acari) in the marine littoral, an introduction" on 6th Oct 2004. She was hosted by Darren Yeo.

Shane Ahyong (Australian Museum) is here between 3rd - 16th Oct 2004, investigating the mantis shrimp and genus of the majid crabs from the Panglao expedition. He is hosted by Tan Swee Hee.

Maurice Kottelat, the Raffles Museum's Honorary Research Associate, works on the systematics and taxonomy of freshwater fishes. Hosted by Kelvin Lim, he is here for a month between 23rd September to 24th October 2004.

Boris Sket (Dept. Biology, Univ. Ljubljana, Slovenia) is a subterranean amphipod expert who dropped in last Saturday (9th Oct 2004) and spent an afternoon in the Systematics & Ecology Lab.

L-R: Shane Ahyong, Boris Sket, Peter Ng, Cai Yixiong, Maurice Kottelat. Thanks to Tan Heok Hui for the photo.

Posted at 9:22AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Thu 15 Jul 2004

Crustacea of Panglao 2004

Category : research

Peter Ng, Joelle Lai and Tan Swe Hee spearheaded the collection and curation of crustaceans collected during a scientific survey on the marine biodiversity of Panglao, Bohol.

The core phase of this project took place between 26th May and 10th July 2004, and was organised by the University of San Carlos, Cebu in partnership with the French National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).

Funded by the Total Foundation, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, PANGLAO 2004 involved scientists, volunteers and students from 17 countries.

The team collected specimens by trawling, dredging, coral brushing, sea bottom suctioning, diving, traps and traditional fishing methods such as tangle nets and lumun lumun.

In total, some 1200 species of crustaceans were documented and photographed, and more await to be discovered. Several new genera and species were recorded and the largest was a Parthenopid crab of the genus Pseudolambrus, caught by traps just off the beach at a depth of 25-30m.

Posted at 3:47AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,

Wed 30 Jun 2004

Peter Dworschak of Vienna Museum

Category : visitors

Peter C. Dworschak, crustacean curator of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria, dropped by for a lighting visit on 30th June 2004. He was on his way back from a one month stint with the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project 2004.

He specializes in thalassinideans (slender bodied burrowing lobster-like crustaceans like the mangrove mud lobster) and was having a quick look at specimens in the Raffles Museum in our collection. He was hosted by Darren Yeo and Tan Swee Hee.

Posted at 5:39AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,