Thanks to a CSIRO Early Career Development Grant, two researchers from the Australian Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey (AusCPR) travelled to South Africa and spent two weeks at the University of the Western Cape. Anita Slotwinski and Claire Davies participated in an information exchange and spent a week receiving expert training from Prof. Mark Gibbons in important zooplankton taxa including cnidarians, pteropods, salps, doliolids, chaetognaths and appendicularians. These groups are especially important as food for fisheries, influencing fish recruitment (e.g. predation by jellyfish and chaetognaths), important in carbon cycling (e.g. sinking of salp feacal pellets, appendicularian houses) and indicators of ocean acidification (e.g. pteropods). These groups are well represented in plankton samples from AusCPR and the IMOS National Reference Stations (NRS) and were previously only identified very broadly, due to the lack of knowledge in Australia. The added dimension of learning to identify these taxa to species level will allow the CSIRO based plankton group to increase the value of plankton datasets.
Anita and Claire also ran a week long workshop on copepod identification. There were 10 workshop participants, a mixture of university PhD students and researchers from around South Africa. Below is an article written by Riann Cedras PhD Candidate from the University of the Western Cape who was one of the workshop participants. Anita and Claire benefited enormously from the opportunity to teach others - there is no better way to learn a subject area than to have to teach it. It is also commendable that IMOS trained staff have passed on valuable taxonomic skills to many young indigenous scientists in Southern Africa.
Copepods are crustaceans (like crabs and prawns) and those that swim freely in the open ocean (members of the plankton) are arguably the most multitudinous metazoans on the planet, being found in all oceans and seas, at all depths. They are diverse