Friday, April 19, 2013

A for Austria

A few weeks ago I posted that the DNA Barcoding community reached another milestone and assembled 2 Million barcodes in the past 10 years. This is a remarkable accomplishment but I thought it would be nice to highlight a couple of projects that helped building this immense library that is still so far from being complete.

My contribution to the 'celebrations' of 10 years DNA Barcoding is to present people and their work from around the globe. Once a week I will pick a project and provide a few information bits and links for everyone interested in how much the field has grown already.

Let's start with 'A' for Austria and Peter Huemer, a researcher at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum. Very recently he published an updated checklist of all lepidoptera species of Austria (in German) which comprises of 4071 species. A quick search on BOLD told me that some 2000 of those have been barcoded in the last 3 years and the project is far from finished. This effort is part of a larger project that aims to barcode the lepidoptera of the alps a fauna that is encompassing about 6000 species.

In contrast to national barcoding initiatives the study area covers a major European biogeographic region shared by 8 countries. Despite the fact that the Alps are among the best studied mountain areas in the world researchers such as Peter were astonished by an unexpected amount of cryptic species revealed by those early studies.

In the next three years the Austrian researcher and his counterparts from the autonomous province Bozen – South Tyrol, Italy will collect and barcode 2000 more species from both sides of a major ridge of the Alps. This ridge divides North and South Tyrol and the researchers on both sides hope that the results of their study will provide insights into speciation processes driven by the glacial history of the region.

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