Fishbase in trouble

Do you know Fishbase? If you - like me - are working in fish biology and anything relating to fish or if you are a serious fish hobbyist it is very likely that you came across Fishbase a number of times. It is a huge resource for fish names and life history information. Endless work has been put into this database but it has never been easy to find the money needed to run it…

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A new shark: Squalus clarkae

Eugenie Clark was a pioneer in shark biology, known around the world for her illuminating research on shark behavior. But she was a pioneer in another critical way, as one of the first women of prominence in the male-dominated field of marine biology.Fondly labeled the "Shark Lady," Clark, who founded Mote Marine Laboratory and continued studying fishes until she passed away in 2015 at age 92, will now be recognized with another distinction: namesake of…

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A new species of Bandy-Bandy: Vermicella parscauda

Bandy-bandies (genus Vermicella) are small (50–100cm) black and white burrowing elapid snakes with a highly specialized diet of blindsnakes. There are currently only five species known in this genus, all from Australia.The species name was build with the Latin words pars (part) and cauda (tail) in reference to the tail length and formed bands on the tail.For the experts:  Morphological and mitochondrial analyses of specimens collected from the Weipa area, Cape York, Queensland reveal the…

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Temperature and mtDNA selection

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has traditionally been used in population genetic and biogeographic studies as a maternally-inherited and evolutionary-neutral genetic marker. However, it is now clear that polymorphisms within the mtDNA sequence are routinely non-neutral, and furthermore several studies have suggested that such mtDNA polymorphisms are also sensitive to thermal selection. A team of researchers from Japan, Australia, and the UK studied two naturally occurring mtDNA variants that are carried by fruit flies inhabiting the east coast…

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Weekend reads

Back on track with the weekend read posts.  Maybe not as many as usual but still quite interesting to read.Tree species identity and diversity drive fungal richness and community composition along an elevational gradient in a Mediterranean ecosystemEcological and taxonomic knowledge is important for conservation and utilization of biodiversity. Biodiversity and ecology of fungi in Mediterranean ecosystems is poorly understood. Here, we examined the diversity and spatial distribution of fungi along an elevational gradient in…

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A new darkling beetle: Blaptogonia zhentanga

Darkling beetles are usually colored blackish, dark brown or grey, and often have a satiny sheen and few are metallic. This large beetle family also contains the better known flour beetles. These animals feed on both fresh and decaying vegetation, which unfortunately includes vegetable produce which is why several are known as commercially important pests of flour and other cereal products.The new species was named after the type locality, Zhêntang in Tibet.For the experts: A new…

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How predictable is evolution?

Imagine 500 to 1,000 species of cichlids living in one of the African Great Lakes, one of the largest freshwater habitats in the world. The degree of complexity is unimaginable. Even the genealogical relationships between the cichlid species living in these lakes have only partially been resolvedFor every two species of mammal there is one species of cichlid fish, which shows that biodiversity is distributed rather unevenly among animals. The question is why and to…

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(Post-) Weekend reads

Last Friday I was so invested in some data analysis that I forgot everything around me and that included my Friday blog post with weekend reading material. My apologies for that. Nevertheless, here are my weekly favourites for some throughout the week reading.Mu-DNA: a modular universal DNA extraction method adaptable for a wide range of sample typesEfficient DNA extraction is fundamental to molecular studies. However, commercial kits are expensive when a large number of samples…

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One decade of ZooKeys

One decade of ZooKeys - not bad at all. That means one decade of Open Access Taxonomy. Descriptions that are not hiding behind a paywall, a no-brainer if you ask me. How can we talk about democratization and equal access to information if a large part of the primary literature is still hidden to a substantial group of researchers simply because they or their institution can't afford a subscription. Especially for taxonomy that is pretty…

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A new Orchid: Odontochilus putaoensis

The orchid genus Odontochilus comprises of about 40 known species. Most of them are small terrestrial plants, usually found in humid evergreen broadleaved forests of tropical Asia.The new species is named after Putao, the northernmost town of Myanmar because the species was discovered in a vast area of undisturbed mountain forest next to it.For the experts: Odontochilus putaoensis, a new species of Orchidaceae, is described and illustrated from Putao Township, Kachin State, Myanmar. Odontochilus putaoensis is close…

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