Species Diversity and Biogeography

Back to
Research Index

CRRF maintains an exceptional collection of Indo-Pacific marine specimens, which are under active study by specialist taxonomists from the international scientific community. The wet specimen collection numbers nearly 10,000 lots, and is particularly rich in the taxonomically difficult groups such as ascidians, sponges, soft corals, and bryozoans.

Nearly 100 new species of ascidians (sea squirts) have been described by Francois and Claude Monniot of the Paris Museum in a series of papers (see publications) in the last several years, based on material collected by CRRF mostly as a result of the US National Cancer Institute collections program. Similarly, knowledge of the sponges also has increased greatly as a result of our work for NCI and the descriptions by Dr. Michelle Kelly of NIWA (New Zealand), including new species and new geographic records. Valuable contributions also have been made to our understanding of the diversity and distribution of many other taxa including flatworms, nudibranchs (sea slugs), echinoderms (crinoids, sea stars, sea cucumbers), and anthozoans (e.g. anemones and corals).

CRRF is pioneering the use of diving rebreather and submersible technology in the service of science to discover the large number of unknown species present in the Indo-west Pacific at depthd below those accessible to SCUBA "sport" divers. Work has focused on the "below reef" environment from 60 to 360 m (200 to 1200 feet) and already has found many new deepwater species and geographic records.

Included with these collections are an outstanding collection of nearly 100,000 underwater photographs of organisms and habitats, extensive database (GIS compatible), and library holdings related to Micronesia and the Indo-west Pacific. The laboratory is committed, over the next decade, to publishing high-quality scientific works describing the marine fauna of Palau, Micronesia, and the wider Indo-Pacific for use by all parties interested in the marine environment.

Problems with this page? Please contact webmaster