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MORE Programs Poster Presentation

December 1, 2006

Joseph Heras

Title:
EXAMINATION OF SKOGSBERGIA LERNERI (OSTRACODA: MYODOCOPIDA: CYPRIDINIDAE) FROM BELIZE: THE USE OF MOLECULAR AND MORPHOLOGICAL TOOLS TO DISTINGUISH CRYPTIC SPECIES

Abstract:
This study will determine whether the morphologically defined species Skogsbergia lerneri consists of unrecognized or cryptic species in Belize. Currently, the only ostracode species of the genus Skogsbergia described from the Caribbean is Skogsbergia lerneri. S. lerneri samples were collected from coral reef and grass habitats from various regions of the Caribbean and their mitochondrial DNA (16s rRNA) sequences were used to construct a phylogentic tree. The phylogenetic analysis suggested that samples from Belize belong in three different clades, which may represent at least three different species. However, only 26 samples were sequenced from Belize. This study will focus on S. lerneri from two islands of Belize: Carrie Bow Cay and Glovers Reef. My research will further investigate the occurrence of multiple species by increasing the sample size, examining morphology, and sequencing additional genes. In addition to the 16s rRNA gene, two additional mitochondrial genes will be analyzed: the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and cytochrome b (cytb) genes. The morphology of the samples will be examined by light and confocal microscopy and studied for diagnostic features that distinguish the three genetic lineages in Belize. The importance of this study is to understand ostracode biodiversity, because they are part of coral reef and coastal marine habitats, which are being altered by human activity. In addition, this study will be helpful in understanding speciation in marine habitats and ostracode evolution. The end result of this study will be to conclude whether the three different lineages found in Belize represent distinct species.

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