People:Tax team leader: Gustav Paulay, University of Florida
Background:The marine invertebrate community of Moorea is the most diverse of the major targeted biotas, likely accounting for more than half of all Moorean multicellular species. To assess the challenges associated with this assemblage, we recruited Gustav Paulay from the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) during the pilot phase, leveraging his interest and experience (Census of Marine Life and graduate students). Moreover, we brokered a partnership with Guelph to sequence the collected material as a test set of samples. These templates establish proof of concept across the diversity of phyla encountered and facilitate BOLD's launch of a marine barcoding campaign. Our pilot efforts were designed to provide a sufficiently broad sampling of marine invertebrate diversity to inform a comprehensive survey. We collected ca. 1,000 morphospecies of marine invertebrates among over 2,000 specimens collected. Among well-studied and conspicuous groups, like cowrie and cone snails, even this pilot phase netted approximately 30% of the known diversity of the region.
Significance:This would be the first complete inventory of invertebrates for any coral reef community. Currently, our estimations of reef diversity range over at least one order of magnitude, and we have not developed effective methodologies for estimating biodiversity on reefs. A genetic inventory for reef species will assist ecologists, especially those associated with the LTER and CRIOBE programs, to identify all life stages, track food web dynamics, monitor reef health and dynamics, and pinpoint effective eco-engineering strategies. Global threats to coral reef ecosystems are unprecedented. Experts predict that we could lose as much as 70% of the corals because of increased stress related to global warming, ocean acidification, sedimentation, and pollution. A critical unknown factor is the impact the loss of coral species have on the overall biodiversity of the reef system. Tools developed by MBP will assist is assessing these impacts.