This project is focused on the cestodes (or tapeworms), an appealing monophyletic assemblage of platyhelminths that, as adults, inhabit the digestive system (i.e., bowels) of all classes of vertebrates. The project brings together 22 expert cestode taxonomists from 13 countries around the world to treat all orders and families of this class on a global scale. Collection of new material from terrestrial and/or aquatic habitats is proposed to be conducted in 20 countries; in-country collaborative arrangements have already been established in most of these regions. Whereas the current diversity of cestodes is estimated to be ~5,000 species, newly collected material, in combination with investigation of existing available undescribed taxa, is predicted to yield a total of ~1,600-1,700 new cestode species. These taxa will be formally described by this expert team in collaboration with post-doc, and graduate and undergraduate student participants. Although clearly monophyletic as a class, existing data conspire to suggest that the monophyly of cestode orders is in need of major revision. Cestode phylogenetic relationships will be investigated with sequence data generated for ~1,000 exemplar species, chosen from across the spectrum of cestode genera, families and orders. This work will target one nuclear (D1-D3 28S rRNA; ~1,400 bp), and two mitochondrial (cox1; ~1,500 bp and rrnL: ~700-1,000 bp) genes and/or fragments. These data will be subjected to a diversity of analytical methods including Bayesian Inference, Likelihood, and Parsimony methods. The reorganization of cestode orders (and in some instance families if necessary) will occur only if/when stability in the phylogenetic results has been obtained.
Recent Collecting trips: