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Students catalog GBR's invertebrate biodiversity for website

By Leonard Ho - Posted Apr 24, 2012 09:00 AM
Students from The University of Queensland are populating a new website with data on GBR invertebrates. "After completing eight weeks of intensive study of marine invertebrates in Brisbane, the class undertakes a seven day field trip at UQ's Heron Island Research Station. Each student undertakes detailed studies on a marine invertebrate of their choice" and create a detailed webpage about his/her research.
Students catalog GBR's invertebrate biodiversity for website

Student divers do homework on the GBR

Students Become Teachers

As part of their academic requirement, undergraduate students from UQ's School of Biological Sciences BIOL3211 class choose a Great Barrier Reef invertebrate species of their choice to study and document on UQ's website, Great Barrier Reef Invertebrates.  The project began in 2011, so the website is currently sparsely populated.  Future classes will continue to fill the gaps, thus creating a large crowd-sourced student-sourced body of data on GBR's incredible biodiversity.

Now where was this class when I went to college?!


UQ News Release

Undergraduate students from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences have embarked on a project to document the unique biodiversity that exists in Australia's coral reefs.

Those enrolled in the Undergraduate Program in Marine Science have developed a website that describes the Great Barrier Reef's invertebrates in detail.

Course coordinator and ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Bernard Degnan said the site details lesser-known invertebrates, many of which are of major ecological importance.

“Although colourful fish and corals tend to grab the attention of the public, the huge bulk of animal diversity on the reef comes in the form of snails, worms, starfish and crabs,” Professor Degnan said.

Working from Heron Island Research Station the students study particular marine invertebrates in detail.

These research findings are then published on “Great Barrier Reef Invertebrates”, the class' website dedicated to describing their biology.

“These undergraduate projects and web pages are accessible to students, researchers, and future employers from around the world, and form an important part of a marine students' undergraduate portfolio,” Professor Degnan said.

Alyssa Budd was one of the students who participated in this course.

“I had decided to focus my attention on ascidians or sea squirts. There are over 200 species of sea squirts on Heron Island Reef alone. Luckily, on our first snorkel out on the beautiful Heron Island Reef a friend managed to upturn a coral boulder with a group of three large, peach coloured ascidians,”

“Excited that my project may already be underway, I quickly popped them in a sample container in the hope that I would later be able to learn how to study them in the lab,” Ms Budd said.

Ms Budd said the guidance provided to students in the course provided an exceptional learning opportunity.

“With the assistance of the course coordinater himself, a few crazy hours in the lab and a lot of research effort I managed to produce a webpage that was up to scratch and run a developmental experiment that provoked my interest in invertebrates."

This project is supported by a UQ Strategic Teaching and Learning Grant.

Media: Tracey Franchi, Communications Manager, School of Biological Sciences (+61 3365 4831 or email:

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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