CORDIS - EU research results

Diversity and phylogeny of Tanaidacea form southeastern Australia


The marine fauna of southern Australia is very different from that of the rest of Australia and of other continents because of its long isolation. Its affinities are more with other Gondwanan continents (New Zealand, South America in particular) than with tropical northern Australia although elements of Indo-West Pacific fauna do occur.

Its evolution suggests that no global study of a taxon can be complete without examination of the Australian fauna. The southeastern coast of Australia is an excellent place for studying the systematics of marine invertebrates because it includes a variety of environments along a coastline from subtropical to cold temperate environments.

The principal aim of DiPoT addresses the scarcity of knowledge of one diverse yet poorly understood crustacean order (Tanaidacea) an important component of benthic marine food-webs and known to be a significant contributor to marine biodiversity. Biodiversity and ecological research has shown that the tanaids of southeastern Australia are specially abundant and diverse, more so than in many other regions.

Taxonomic descriptions and mapping of species' distributions will lead to hypotheses about the origin, evolution and radiation of Tanaidacea in the region and their relationship to the group in other parts of the world. The hypothesis will be tested against a background of present-day understanding of Gondwana biogeography such as timing of separation of Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.

Studying tanaids from southeastern Australia, supervised by a world leader in crustacean taxonomy and phylogeny, Dr Gary Poore, will allow the fellow to enhance her expertise in taxonomy, master state-of-the-art taxonomic techniques (SEM, digital photography), to employ modern software (DELTA, PAUP), to better understand modern and classical concepts of evolution, and to develop a better capability for interpreting taxonomic results in an evolutionary contest.

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Narutowicza 65

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