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Symbiotic Copepoda Workshop

Every three years, researchers and students studying symbiotic copepods (small crustaceans) from around the world learn research techniques and exchange ideas during the International Workshop on Symbiotic Copepoda (IWOSC). During July, CMA Exhibits and Collections Curator Dr. Julianne Kalman Passarelli traveled to South Africa as one of the organizers and leaders of the event for the 2nd IWOSC gathering.

“The workshop started as a conversation in 2008 when my friend and colleague Danny Tang and I realized that out of about 200 people at the International Copepoda Conference less than 20 people studied symbiotic copepods,” explained Passarelli. “Danny wanted to organize a workshop to train young researchers and established scientists to work on symbiotic copepods to maintain the scientific legacy of this group before many experts retire.”

Passarelli spearheaded organizing the 1st IWOSC, which took place at CMA during December 2010. Thirty-six participants from 13 different countries met at the Aquarium for lectures, discussions and lab tutorials on dissection and scientific identification techniques. Thanks to support from FRIENDS of CMA and co-organizers Danny Tang and Kazuya Nagasawa from the University of Hiroshima, the workshop was a resounding success.

This success led to planning the 2nd IWOSC event in South Africa where Passarelli’s friend and colleague Susan Dippenaar led the event at the University of Limpopo in Polokwane. Since the university isn’t near the coast, the biggest challenge was making sure there were enough copepod specimens for participants to study during the workshop.

“We didn’t want to have a copepod training and no copepods! With help from CMA staff, we collected copepods that live in mussels right off our dock and prepared and shipped them for each participant at IWOSC,” said Passarelli. “Dr. Ju-shey Ho at Cal-State Long Beach and Danny helped me create worksheets to show participants how to identify the copepod’s scientific family and then genus. It turned out to be one of the most popular activities.”

After another great workshop with 33 participants from six countries, Passarelli and her colleagues are already planning the next one tentatively scheduled for July 2016 in Australia. The goal is to keep the momentum building and continue training the next generation of symbiotic copepod researchers, which also allows scientists of all ages to stay in contact with each other and in the process encourages collaboration.

And why is symbiotic copepod research so important? “Copepods are small crustaceans and the basis of almost every ocean food chain, without copepods we wouldn’t have tuna, whales, sharks, and many other large ocean animals,” said Passarelli. “Symbiotic copepods (symbiosis means living together) are especially important because they impact other animals, such as some parasitic copepods that cause problems in aquaculture. Understanding copepods is key to understanding the health of our oceans and marine life.”

Post Date: Friday, August 30, 2013

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