MOTO-IGERT Research in Papua-New Guinea, January 2011
University of Chicago Moto-IGERT trainees Joanna Mandecki and Charlene McCord participated in a three-week expedition to Papua New Guinea. The main objectives of this trip were: 1) Sample the biodiversity of Bootless Bay; 2) Collect whole fish specimens and prepare fish skeletons to bring back and include in the Zoology collections at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois; 3) Collect pertinent morphological data for ongoing neuromechanics-related lab projects that focus on pectoral fin swimming and jaw biomechanics in a variety of coral reef fishes; 4) Collect tissue samples that will be used to evaluate the genetic component of reef connectivity in Micronesia; 5) Establish academic connections and collaborations with the University of Papua New Guinea. Primary Investigators, Dr. Mark Westneat (Moto-IGERT faculty) and one of his Post Doctoral researchers, Dr. Joshua Drew, led the expedition team. The visit to Papua New Guinea consisted of several SCUBA-assisted collecting missions, multiple trips to the Pidgin fish markets near Port Moresby, and many positive and progressive interactions with the students, staff, and faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea. A highlight for all voyage participants was teaching three senior UPNG students about the proper procedures for setting up a zoological museum collection. Widely considered the "hotspot of biodiversity", Papua New Guinea lacks extensive zoological and botanical collections. It was important to all expedition participants to pass along knowledge that will help PNG biologists collect, process, preserve, and catalogue the rich biodiversity of their homeland for hundreds of years to come. Joanna, Charlene, Mark and Josh hope to return to Papua New Guinea in the future to continue work on their various projects.
Trying to key out fishes after a collection trip out to the reef
FMNH field crew + Robyn (professor at UPNG) and three students, Mazzella, Naomi and Benthley
Photo credits: Joshua Drew, Joanna Mandecki, Charlene McCord, Mark Westneat