OOS 19-8 - Using museum specimens to investigate biogeographic patterns across the Indo-West Pacific

Wednesday, August 10, 2016: 10:30 AM
Grand Floridian Blrm G, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
François Michonneau, Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience & Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

The Indo-West Pacific is the largest and most diverse marine biogeographic
region. Yet, species limits and distributions of most species are poorly
documented, diversity is underestimated, and the mechanisms generating this
diversity are not elucidated. Museum records provide the basis to address these
questions. Here, I present results showing how recently collected specimens of
sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea), where the associated location,
habitat, live and field photographs, as well as genetic data, are recorded and
made available through publicly accessible databases (iDigBio), enables (1) the
quantification of the number of cryptic species, (2) the identification of the
location of the cladogenetic barriers, (3) the identification of putative
speciation mechanisms. Additionally, by using publicly available specimen
information as the starting point for this research, it makes possible to
develop an open and reproducible workflow.


I show that despite their economical and ecological importance, sea cucumber
diversity is grossly underestimated with ~50% of the species being currently
unrecognized. Most diversification has occurred in allopatry, across recognized
biogeographic barriers (e.g., Indian-Pacific Ocean; East Pacific
Barrier). However, ecology seems to play an important role as some recently
diverged species occur along depth gradients, and peripheral habitats with
unique ecological conditions harbor high levels of endemicity. I will also
present the workflow developed for this research, and highlight training efforts
to increase the adoption of reproducible research for collection-based research.