Open Southern Ocean sea star database published in Ecology
After a long time in the making, the paper describing our open database of trophic markers and biometric measurements in Southern Ocean sea stars is out in Ecology. This massive effort, co-lead by Camille Moreau (ULB) and Baptiste Le Bourg (ULiège) as part of their respective PhD theses, contains almost 25000 measurements performed in nearly 2500 sea star specimens from 133 taxa, sampled in numerous locations along the Antarctic littoral and subantarctic islands between 1985 and 2017. The database contains ecological (stable isotopes and elemental contents of C, N and S), morphological (arm length, disk radius, arm to disk ratio), but also, for some specimens (>500), genetic information (mitochondrial CO1 gene sequences).
Gathering so many samples from so many cruises in remote places was only made possible through collaborations with multiple colleagues from international institutions. Moreover, we complemented new field sampling with use of previously sampled specimens stored in museum collections. This allowed us to increase too greatly increase the scope of the database both spatially and temporally. It illustrate the tremendous value of museum collections to fill gaps in our knowledge of the ecology of species coming from data-poor regions or ecosystems. Moreover, they allow us to study past trophic ecology of organisms, as they were collected during periods when environmental conditions were different and usually more pristine than today.