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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Bio-Inventory in Oz
14 August 2000 5:00 pm
Australia's famous Great Barrier Reef has no trouble attracting the world's marine scientists to catalog its riches. But the country has only 100 native marine scientists, and the biota on the remote 14,000-kilometer west coast of the country remains largely unknown.
To tackle the problem, an international team of 40 scientists converged last month on the town of Dampier. During an 18-day biodiversity blitz, they explored every niche to inventory the local biota, fossicking among the mangroves, combing the sandy shores, and diving the warm waters of the Dampier archipelago, a 35-kilometer-long island cluster in Australia's northwest corner that easily matches the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef. Organizer Fred Wells, curator of aquatic biology at the Western Australian Museum in Perth, got the idea for the strike force from Sydney's Australian Museum, which did a similar inventory on Queensland's Lizard Island in 1975.
So far, five such surveys, held near remote coastal areas around the country, have produced a treasure trove of new data: 260 new species, 36 new genera, and two new families. These include Western Australia's first members of the marine mite family, its first species of a wormlike mollusk called aplacophoran, and an unusual species of benthic ctenophore, a bottom-dwelling comb jelly. Findings from the most recent outing, which was funded by a local liquid natural gas company, will eventually be published in the proceedings of the Western Australian Museum. Wells says the work may also help establish a marine park to protect the Dampier archipelago.