Smythe Conducts Fieldwork in Tobago

Ashleigh Smythe collects marine nematodes in Tobago.
Ashleigh Smythe collects marine nematodes in Tobago.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Ashleigh Smythe spent one week in January on the southern Caribbean island of Tobago (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) collecting marine nematodes. Her work was sponsored by the Buccoo Reef Trust, a non-profit agency whose goal is to promote research and education about Caribbean coral reefs and marine habitats.

Nematodes are a diverse phylum of worms found in all types of terrestrial and aquatic sediment. Collecting efforts for this trip included nematodes from beach habitats as well as nematodes in sand from coral reef habitats accessible only by scuba diving. The nematode fauna of Tobago is virtually unknown, and this trip was aimed at beginning to document the nematode diversity there. In addition, she collected members of the order Enoplida, an evolutionarily important group of nematodes for which she and her research students are reconstructing the phylogenetic relationships.

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