Nemertea and Parasite experts together at VLIZ, during a double WoRMS-LifeWatch workshop | Lifewatch regional portal

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Nemertea and Parasite experts together at VLIZ, during a double WoRMS-LifeWatch workshop

Added on 2017-04-28 14:17:02 by Vandepitte, Leen
On April 24-26 2017, the Flanders Marine Institute – home of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) – welcomed 23 editors, with expertise in Nemertea (3) and Parasites (20). Both groups were at VLIZ for the first ‘double’ LifeWatch-sponsored workshop.
On Monday April 24th, a general introduction day was organized for both groups.  Next to more background information on the Aphia database and initiatives related to WoRMS, the WoRMS Data Management Team (DMT) gave a detailed hands-on training session, demonstrating the online tools and functionalities of the online editing interface. During the second day, both groups had their own separate meetings, where they focused on the specifics of their own taxa.

Both workshops can definitely be labelled as highly successful. The Parasite experts took time to identify the problems and gaps within their groups of expertise and to discuss possible ways to tackle these. A list of missing trait fields – specifically important for parasites and their relation with their host species – was identified and – once standardized lists have been created – these will be incorporated into Aphia and WoRMS. By adding these traits, the usability of the documented data will increase tremendously. The group will keep working on documenting host-parasite relations and additional relevant information and is aiming to launch their Register in the second half of 2019, coinciding with the 10th International Symposium on Fish Parasites (ISFP10, Australia). An intermediate overview of their progress will be submitted to the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB, May 2018, Canada).

Whereas the Parasites Group focused more on how they should get their initiative on the rails, the Nemertea group has focused on launching their own Global Species Register - ‘World Nemertea Database’ ( - and to add feeding type information for their species. Their goal was to document the feeding type for 50% of the Nemertea species, but they managed to become 100% complete. Upon their request, a new feeding type was added: ‘kleptovore’, specifically for Nemertea species that live inside bivalves and steal part of the food that has been filtered by the bivalve. Names with missing authorities were checked and completed where possible during these two days. The advantage of having the 3 experts in the same room, is that they can discuss the issues at hand directly. This has led to resolving a number of troublesome synonym names and to agree on the new classification for the following taxa: Pilidiophora, Hoplonemertea en Palaeonemertea. In the following months, the Nemertean experts will upload a large amount of images, and the full library of Jon Norenburg will also become available through the portal, an invaluable addition to the system for all scientists working on Nemertea. In addition, there are plans to resolve the so-called ‘dead names’ through a publication.

The organisation of the workshop and the support of the Data Management Team are  supported by LifeWatch Belgium, part of the E-Science European LifeWatch Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. LifeWatch is a distributed virtual laboratory which is used for different aspects of biodiversity research. The Taxonomic Backbone of LifeWatch aims at bringing together taxonomic and species-related data and at filling the gaps in our knowledge. In addition, it gives support to taxonomic experts by providing them logistic and financial support for meetings and workshops related to expanding the content and enhancing the quality of taxonomic databases.

Group image

From left to right: Shokoofeh Shamsi, Geoff Boxshall, Rod Bray, Robert Adlard, David Gibson,  Haylee Weaver, Stefanie Dekeyzer, Janine Caira, Sarah Perche, Malin Strand, Kerry Hadfield, Alfonso Herrera Bachiller, Nico Smit Bart Vanhoorne, Chris Boyko, Jon Norenburg, Roman Kuchta, Thomas Cribb, Wim Decock, Ricardo Cunha, Kevin Verfaille, Sofie Vranken, Scott Cutmore, Christopher Whipps, Leen Vandepitte, David Solis González, Stephen Atkinson, Tingbao Yang & Jimmy Bernot.

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