Expeditions

DNA barcoding has proved its effectiveness in high-volume species identification and discovery. It can be effective in species determination and can aid taxonomists by indicating useful diagnostic morphological traits, informing needful revision, and flagging unseen species. The term DNA barcoding was coined for the use of a standardized DNA region as a tag to efficiently and reliably identify known species and to aid in the discovery of undescribed species (Herbert et al. 2003, 2010).

 

Hence, this promising standardized molecular approach may have a role in allowing for a broad examination of species boundaries of various molluscs. DNA barcoding may be sensitive enough to reveal discrete biological entities, and allow these molecular biomarkers to complement taxonomy and to explore species diversity. It provides an ideal opportunity to offer fresh insights into the taxonomy and biodiversity of this poorly understood fauna.

 

Ecological aspects also play an important role in molluscan studies. As food source of other organisms such as fish and crustaceans, marine gastropods and bivalves constitute an important segment of an intact ecosystem. Also, many molluscan groups are extremely sensitive to habitat disturbances such as warming temperatures and pollution. Any disturbance caused to a coral reef or a sandbar, intertidally or in deep water, has an impact on the species-composition of the molluscs that inhabit these places. Depending on the species, molluscs react differently to changes in the salinity, the pH, the presence of metals, detergents, or other chemicals spilled by the activity of man.

 

In certain molluscs, e.g. the cowries (a popular group of gastropods with a shiny shell), the shell formation is critically influenced by a variety of factors allowing for a long-term monitoring of an area simply by the study of the shells. To identify which aberration to the shell is caused by which disturbance can lead to a fine-tuned system of biomonitoring the habitats of any area inhabited by those molluscs that are suitable as bioindicators.

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