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Rapidly Advancing the Knowledge of Marine Biodiversity


CIMAR assistants Fabio Quesada, Bryan Flores, Paula Montiel and Kaylen González (left to right) and Gilberth Ampie, marine parataxonomist (standing far right with camera) process samples at the Isla San José research station in the Islas Murciélago, 2019 (photo by Juan José Alvarado).

In a new paper in the journal Biotropica, GDFCF Board Members Drs. Jorge Cortés Núñez and Frank Joyce explain “how a synergistic mutualism between four entities is meeting the daunting challenge of knowing and documenting the organisms in a wild, marine area.” The BioMar project, which is the entity tackling this daunting challenge, is a collaboration between GDFCF, Área de Conservación Guanacaste, the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the Universidad de Costa Rica, and the Museo de Zoología and the Herbario de Biología. The goal of the project is to bioinventory the Sector Marino of ACG and use DNA barcoding to document and better understand the species that call it home. The project also employs two parataxonomists dedicated to working on marine organisms; their initial work allows specialized taxonomists to greatly enhance their efficiency in documenting and naming collected material. The paper notes that in the previous 85 years, 594 species were reported for ACG. After four years of BioMar-ACG, new records for 885 species for ACG and Costa Rica have been added, an almost 2.5-fold increase. In addition, 69 of these species are likely to be new species. Overall, write Cortés and Joyce, “We have demonstrated that we can advance the knowledge of marine biodiversity at a relatively fast rate with this project. For these reasons, the BioMar-ACG project is an example for the rest of Costa Rica and other countries as a model to rapidly advance the knowledge of marine biodiversity.” The full paper can be viewed here.