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Russian benthologists in Bergen to study octocorals and echinoids

Dendrobrachia. Scale (one stripe) is 1 cmTwo Russian benthologists recently visited the Bergen Museum for two weeks to examine collections from the 2004 MAR-ECO expedition on the RV G.O.Sars. Tina Molodtsova and Kiril Minin are taxonomists with special interest in octocorals and echninoids, respectively. Drs Molodstsova and Minin come from the benthos laboratory of the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow.

By Tina Molodtsova and Kiril Minin


Tina Molodtsova
Tina Molodtsova takes a look at what a colleague at Bergen Museum is working on...
The collection of octocorals obtained on the MAR-ECO expedition is rather small because of the limited number of stations. On the other hand the idea of MAR-ECO project; to sample the deep-sea at the both sides of the mid-Atlantic Ridge in the biotopes with very specific hydrography and sedimentation made the material obtained very interesting.  In total, 16 species of octocorallians (8 species of Pennatularia, 3 species of Gorgonaria, and 3 species of Alcyonaria) were collected.  Most species of octocorallians collected were already reported for the North Atlantic, but new data on species distribution is obtained. On the other hand there are some surprises: for example a species of the enigmatic genus Dendrobrachia was discovered in the MAR-ECO collection. Initially described as a black coral (Antipatharia), this genus now represents a monotypic family Dendrobrachiidae with 3 species (from the South Atlantic, Caribbean region and the South Pacific, respectively).


Kiril Minin
Kiril Minin
The collection of echinoids collected during MAR-ECO expedition is of great interest. Despite the fact that fauna of echinoids of the North Atlantic is relatively well known, there are very few samples from the northern part of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. One of the most interesting genera of Atlantic echinoids is the Echinus L. Echinus is perhaps the only genus of echinoids that has the centre of specific diversity in the North Atlantic. To date twelve species and a number of interspecific hybrids were reported from the North Atlantic and adjoining Arctic seas. The great abundance of species and interspecific hybrids in this region makes identification of species difficult. A revision of the genus is needed, and we hope that the material collected in MAR-ECO will help to understand the range of the specific variation in species of the genus Echinus.

The visits by Dr. Molodtsova and Minin was supported by a grant to the Institute of Marine Reseacrh from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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