Archivos de Diario para mayo 2020

08 de mayo de 2020

Clingfish image requested for publication

I love it when an image on Australasian Fishes is requested for use in a scientific paper. Recently Dr Kevin Conway, Associate Professor/Curator of Fishes at Texas A&M University, requested the use of one of Daan Hoffmann’s images.
The image (above left) shows an Orange Clingfish, Diplocrepis puniceus, a New Zealand endemic species that occurs in shallow temperate marine waters often in rockpools. It is usually observed under rocks or boulders in sheltered areas where it feeds on small crustaceans, molluscs and fishes.
Kevin requested the photo for use on a multi-species plate in a paper about the evolution and relationships of clingfishes of the world. View a video of Kevin collecting clingfishes.
Daan works as the Collections Photographer at the Auckland Museum (view an image of Daan at work). The photograph on the right, above, shows Daan diving with his camera setup. Daan now lives in New Zealand but was born in the Netherlands. He’s lived in a number of places, including Malaysia and Australia before landing in New Zealand.
Daan has been diving since 2013, when he undertook a marine studies course at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in an effort to inform/combine his photography with a fascination for underwater life. The course included a diving component, and before long Daan had acquired an underwater camera setup. Most of his diving since has been around Tauranga.
Daan has been working for Auckland Museum since October 2017, initially as Documentary Heritage Photographer digitizing the library's collections then into his current role in the main photography team which sees him working across all of the museum's collections.
As I said, I'm delighted to see Australasian Fishes Project members contributing to the advancement of science. I'm sure we'll see more if this in the future.
Anotado en viernes, 08 de mayo de 2020 a las 03:27 AM por markmcg markmcg | 7 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de mayo de 2020

Scientist Member Profile - Dr Emma Kennedy

Members are aware that several of our project participants are themselves, professional scientists, who generously share their knowledge and expertise with our community. In addition, as highlighted in the previous journal entry, the professional scientific community is now accessing our growing database, to assist in their areas of research. Australasian Fishes participants are furthering research and our knowledge of our marine environment.
This bio blurb is about Dr Emma Kennedy, a research scientist based at the University of Queensland. Known in the project as reef_scientist, Emma grew up in the UK where she learned to dive in a gravel pit outside London. After completing a PhD in Caribbean coral reef ecology at University of Exeter, she moved to Australia where she worked with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to determine whether coralline algae can be used to track the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.
She now works in the Remote Sensing Research Group, creating reef habitat maps that will be key in supporting coral reef science and conservation efforts more broadly. She is a strong advocate of citizen science, teaches diving regularly and sits on the science advisory committee for Reef Check Australia. Here she responds to our series of questions:
Question: Our Members would be interested in the origins of your interest in nature, especially fish. Did your interest in science begin at a young age?
Dr Kennedy: I grew up in central London, where there are not many tropical fish, but I used to visit the Natural History museum and see all the cabinets full of stuffed wildlife collected from all over the world. I loved looking at all the exotic animals. They had a coelacanth - a deep sea fish believed to be extinct for over 66 million years until one got dragged up in a net off the coast of Africa the 1930s - in a glass case. Seven-year old me just thought it was both the most terrifying and amazing thing ever!
Question: Why the interest in the Australasian Fishes project? How did you get involved with our iNaturalist project?
Dr Kennedy: Until recently most of my research was been based in the Caribbean, where I spent over ten years diving and working with coral reef species. When I moved to Australia, I needed to familiarise myself quickly with a very different system of reefs - the Great Barrier Reef - so I could continue to conduct field research. There are more species of fish on the Great Barrier Reef than in the whole Caribbean Sea - and there's no natural overlap so there were whole new families for me to learn like Siganids - so I needed to learn a lot and it was quite overwhelming! I use photos to help me with my ID as we're often too busy working underwater to be able to spend a lot of time looking around. Later I can look at the details in the photo to try and work out what I'd seen. iNaturalist was a great community for me to test my knowledge with a community of helpful experts to help check my ID for me!
Question: Could you tell us a little about your typical, fish identification process using photos?
Dr Kennedy: Tropical reef fish are often colourful, which can sometimes be a distraction! Many people's first thought is to use colour and markings, which are useful as a secondary method of identification but are not always reliable as some species can vary, and colour will appear different with depth changes (what looks red in a book will look brown or black at 10 m). Colours change throughout life, or in periods of stress or mating, as can patterns. I always begin by looking carefully at two things: the body shape of the fish, and how its moving in the water. The body shape can give you a really good indication of which family the fish belongs to - and what they do for a living! For example, predatory fish living in the open water (like a barracuda) tend to be more streamlined, with powerful tail fins and a thick caudal peduncle to provide rapid acceleration when hunting. Obviously, a set of sharp teeth is also a giveaway! Then there are heaps of smaller features related to body shape: how big is the eye? Does it have "eyebrows"? (cirri?). Look at the head shape and the mouth - parrotfish have amazing beaks! How many fins can you count? Check out the dorsal fin - is there one or two? And don't forget the caudal (tail) fin - is it forked, indicating a faster swimming fish like a tuna, does it have a curved (lunate) or flat (truncate) end? These things should be enough to get you to the family - then you can use patterns (angled "stripes", vertical "bars" or horizontal "bands", blotches, dots and spots) and finally colours to help refine your fish down to species. Another primary tool for identification is to observe how the fish is behaving. For example, the way they swim (which fins they use for propulsion), where on the reef they are (whether they are associated with a particular food source, are they hiding, are they on the ground). Is it "flapping" wing-like pectoral fins, or walking on "hands"? A photo can be a great tool, but it’s never a match for spending time underwater with an animal - which is why it can be hard to learn straight from a book.
Question: Do you go into the water much these days. Scuba, snorkel, etc.?
Dr Kennedy: You can't keep me out of the water! I'm lucky that for my main job, as a research scientist at University of Queensland I typically spend 3-4 months of the year on fieldwork, which means a lot of time living and diving in some very remote locations on the Great Barrier Reef. But it’s also my dream to get as many people onto a reef as possible - the Great Barrier Reef is something that everybody should get to experience - which is why I have a second job as a scuba instructor at Brisbane Dive Academy: introducing new divers to the wonderful underwater world is my favourite thing to do! I really enjoy underwater photography but I'm still learning. A recent project that I worked on, we used "Google Street View" style underwater camera-scooters to photograph kilometres of reef at a time. Using advanced Artificial Intelligence - like facial recognition technology - allowed us to identify the corals in 1000s of images in record-breaking time. I love how iNaturalist is making these kinds of technology available to help people ID species in their own backyards.
Question: What was the most difficult fish you had to identify? Why was it difficult?
Dr Kennedy: There are 5000 species of coral reef fishes in the Indo-Pacific: I still struggle every day! It can definitely be confusing the first time you see a fish you're very unfamiliar with. I was working at Heron Island Research Station once when I saw a very large shark-like fish, lying flat on the sand in the deep-water below the boat as I was returning from a dive. It was the strangest shape I'd ever seen - with two huge dorsal fins - and was black as night with white speckles that looked a star-filled sky. I was carrying a lot of equipment and needed to get back to the boat, so we didn't have time to get close and have a look. It took me and my buddy over a week to work out what it is we'd seen was Rhina ancylostoma, a rare type of Rhino Ray called a "Shark Ray". Even though it’s incredibly distinctive, it's very strange looking fish - our descriptions just confused everybody at the research station - and we didn't even know where to start looking in the identification guides!
Question: What are your personal, current areas of research? How long have you been engaged in these areas?
Dr Kennedy: I'm a benthic marine ecologist. This means I specialise in the communities of animals and plants found living on tropical coral reefs, how different species interact with each other and with the environment. In particular my research has focused on climate change - specifically ocean warming and ocean acidification - and how it affects these communities both in space and time. Sometimes it means my work is quite sad, as coral reefs are changing fast and it’s my job to go and see how things like coral bleaching are changing large areas of the Great Barrier Reef. But I've dipped into some really fun research areas too - including using underwater microphones to "listen" to noisy fish, Google Street View style data collection and I even worked in a seaweed lab. Currently I'm working on a project to create the first ever detailed map of the whole planet's coral reefs habitats from outer space! I completed my PhD in Caribbean reef ecology 7 years ago and moved to Australia where I've lived and worked ever since.
Question: What do you think about the project? Are we making a contribution?
Dr Kennedy: INaturalist gets me really excited as a spatial ecologist. I'm really interested in how animals use the environment, and crowd-sourced observations uploaded to the app could be invaluable data source for helping us understand more about species distributions and behaviour. The marine environment in particular can be challenging to work in, and often scientists like me don't have the resources to be able to visit lots of reefs to collect data on fish - but by working together as a community we can help share our data and improve our understanding of these fragile ecosystems! It’s also a lot of fun. There is a porcupine ray that I always see hiding under the jetty at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Now, when I log into iNaturalist I can see she's been spotted in lots of other places by other divers - even as far as the next coral reef along! And a pink anemonefish I found in Indonesia turned out to be a new record for that area! Finally, it's a fun way to test your knowledge, connect with experts and contribute to citizen science.
Australasian Fishes would like to thank Dr Kennedy for supporting our project with observations, identifications and for participating in the Question and Answer session. We are grateful for both her enthusiasm for marine research and for her willingness to support the citizen science community.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Anotado en lunes, 25 de mayo de 2020 a las 06:14 AM por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario