Fri 17 Nov 2017: 10.00am [QE] – Nicholas Yap Wei Liang on “Sea anemone phylogeny, taxonomy and population genetics, with special reference to the frilly anemones, Phymanthidae”

Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
Qualifying Examination

“Sea anemone phylogeny, taxonomy and population genetics, with special reference to the frilly anemones, Phymanthidae”

Speaker:            Yap Wei Liang Nicholas (Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS)
Date:                  17 Nov 2017, Friday
Time:                  10am
Venue:                DBS Conference room  (S3 Level 5)
Supervisor:        Asst. Prof Huang Danwei
Co-supervisor:  Dr Tan Koh Siang

Abstract: – Sea anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria) are one of the most successful and cosmopolitan marine invertebrates on Earth. Found across a range of latitudes and depths, many are engaged in important ecological processes. Despite this, there are few studies on anemones in biodiversity hotspots such as the Coral Triangle and the Indo-Pacific region. Inventories of tropical sea anemones, as well as knowledge about their ecological roles and conservation status remain scarce due to the challenges of identifying and inferring phylogenetic relationships among them. Because anemones have great morphological diversity, traits used to identify them appear to contradict their phylogeny. To date, molecular phylogenetic relationships inferred among many lineages are inconsistent with taxonomy and are poorly supported, a problem exacerbated by the lack of sampling for tropical species.

My dissertation will re-evaluate conventional sea anemone taxonomic characters and their impact on systematics. I focus on a group of tropical, frilly anemones that are understudied and taxonomically unresolved—Phymanthidae.  I aim to: i) test the reliability of taxonomic characters associated with the anemone’s stingers [=cnidae], ii) revise the taxonomy of Phymanthidae, iii) reinterpret phylogenetic relationships with the inclusion of a larger sampling of tropical shallow-water species, iv) determine genetic connectivity of common tropical species around the Malay Peninsula and v) characterize the reproductive modes of Phymanthidae members. Also, I intend to deliver (vi) an updated checklist of anemones found in Singapore to facilitate further research here and in nearby regions.

All are welcome

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