Caribbean Amphipod Diversity in Panama


Globally, there are about 10,000 species of amphipods, a relatively unnoticed order of crustaceans. Amphipods range in size from 1-340 mm in length, but are typically no longer than 15 mm. Given the incredible diversity and small size of amphipods, it can be difficult to identify species correctly. This preliminary analysis of the Caribbean amphipods of Bocas del Toro, Panama involved the collection of amphipods via scuba diving and collection of invertebrate hosts, coral rubble, and sediments. Amphipods were rough sorted by appearance; each morpho-species was imaged in multiple planes of focus using a macro rail system; and finally identified to species level through the use of numerous taxonomic keys. The results will include a species list and an interactive online identification key, highlighting the major characteristics that differentiate species from each other. By increasing the taxonomic knowledge of marine species in Panama, we will gain a better understanding of the biodiversity of the area. With a comprehensive species list and identification tools, scientists and lay people will be able to identify species and monitor changes to the environment that will be evidenced by changing species assemblages. Understanding amphipod diversity is particularly important as amphipods are often used as bioindicators of the health of their environment. The discovery or absence of certain species in an area can be an indicator of changes in water quality or niche availability.


National Science Foundation Grant: Collaborative Research: ARTS: Understanding Tropical Invertebrate Diversity Through Integrative Revisionary Systematics and Training (1856421), GCSU Department of Biological and Environmental Science

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