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Natalie at a microscope in the nematode laboratory
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Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD

Biography

2002 - present, Nematologist
                Zoology Department, Natural History Museum, London, UK

2011 - 2012, Research Professor
                Department of Life Sciences, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea

1999 - 2004, NERC CASE PhD
                National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, UK
                Zoology Department, Natural History Museum, London, UK

1998 - 1999, Research Assistant
                Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle, UK

1994 - 1997, BSc Hons Marine Biology
                University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Research

I am a marine biologist specialising in free-living marine nematodes.  Meiofaunal nematodes are benthic, living in and on sediments and are almost always the largest component of meiofaunal assemblages, usually by an order of magnitude.  Their high abundance, high diversity and microscopic size (generally 45 – 500 µm, or 0.045 – 0.5 mm, long) mean they are relatively under-described and their functional and behavioural interactions with environments and other fauna are comparatively unknown.

Marine nematodes have proven to be an important indicator of ecosystem health, both in terms of diversity and assemblage composition (at species and higher taxonomic levels) and this is my principle focus of study; the relationship between meiofaunal assemblage structure and environmental characteristics.  I am particularly interested in extreme environments, such as transitional brackish waters (lagoons and estuaries), the tropical and subtropical intertidal and, more recently, the deep sea.

Current projects include:

Sequencing the meiofaunal metagenome of key estuarine ecosystems

Estuaries are key transitional habitats that are significantly affected by local and global anthropogenic activities.  Owing to large salinity ranges at estuarine and local scales, they support a regionally diverse nematode assemblage and we are, therefore, using them as model habitat to compare synergies between morphological and molecular identification techniques, and particularly to test the efficacy of massive parallel sequencing (MPS).  
At the Museum I planned and undertook field expeditions with colleagues and back in the lab optimised sample extraction and specimen preparation methodology, to maximise PCR success rates. Using subsamples of material destined for MPS, I identify and video “captured” a representative selection of specimens, put them through lysis and then sent them off to colleagues at Bangor University for standard Sanger sequencing. This produced a reference collection of 165 individuals representing 90 species (54 genera / 24 families / 14 orders) against which the MPS data could be compared.  
We are now finalising data analysis; I am undertaking a review of morphological and molecular methodology and a taxonomic revision of so-called morphologically plastic species, for which we have multiple representatives, and MPS studies are being led by Si Creer at Bangor University.

This work was presented at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2011.

In collaboration with:  

Tim Ferrero, John Lambshead and Margaret Packer (Natural History Museum) 
Si Creer , Delphine Lallias, Vera Fonseca, Simon Neill, Jan Hiddink (Bangor University)
Neil Hall (Liverpool University)
W. Kelley Thomas, Holly Bik, Way Sung (Hubbard Center for Genome Studies)

Diversity, dispersal and succession of whale-fall fauna in the deep sea

Habitat heterogeneity in the deep sea contributes significantly to nematode diversity, yet meiofaunal assemblages at chemosynthetic habitats have been understudied owing to limited sampling effort and available species-level data.  Recently it has been found that at both hydrothermal vents and cold seeps nematode diversity is low, that dominance is high and that even over significant distances nematode species and genera assemblages are similar (Flint et al 2006; Zekely et al 2006; Copley et al 2007; Gollner et al 2007). Macrofaunal assemblages are also similar between widely distributed chemosynthetic habitats, including whale carcasses (Smith & Baco 1998; Dahlgren et al 2004) and clear phylogenetic relationships have been found within taxa occurring at a number of chemosythetic habitats types (Distel et al 2000; Glover et al 2005).

Consequently, it has been postulated that deposited whale-fall carcases represent habitat islands on the sea floor, intermediate between chemosynthetic environments, and that they have significant evolutionary and ecological importance with regard to dispersal and speciation (Smith et al 2002; Glover et al 2005).  With funding from the NHM and ChEss, however, pur new data suggests that nematode assemblages at whale fall sites may not be similar to those recorded at hydrothermal vents or seeps – genera shown to particularly characterize these habitats not being present or present in low numbers. Equally although we found a hyper-diverse assemblage, resulting in the informal description of 125 ‘new’ species, common deep sea genera such as Acantholaimus and Halalaimus were also relatively under-represented. 

This work was presented at the 12th International Deep-Sea Biology Symposium 2010 and the 14th International Meiofauna Conference 2010.

 In collaboration with:
Tim Ferrero, Adrian Glover (Natural History Museum) 
Craig Smith (University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Assessment of regional and local biodiversity in tropical and subtropical coastal habitats in the East African Marine Ecoregion

The transboundary networks of marine protected areas project, TRANSMAP, assessed local turnover and regional biodiversity across the East African Marine Ecoregion, where inter-governmental co-operation has been working to connect local Marine Protected Areas.  The benthic fauna in the three most dominant habitats on this coastline - beaches, mangroves and seagrasses - were studied in two Regions (Northern Region, 10 - 13º S; Southern Region, 25 - 28º S).  Meiofaunal taxa were used as the model faunal group owing to their diversity and abundance across habitat types and environmental conditions. 

The first paper is now available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/u47w058l75272457/

The discovery of Korean indigenous species [Invertebrates]

Currently, about 1743 invertebrate taxa have been recorded on the Korean peninsula, but their distributions are relatively unknown, and it is estimated that many thousands more are yet unrecorded and undescribed.  The aim of this project is to understand and describe the Korean biological diversity to create a national species list.  As part of this project, we are beginning a comprehensive investigation of the marine Nematoda along the whole of the Korean coastal zone.  Over a number of years samples have been collected along the west and south coasts and we are now beginning to examine this material.  So far, we have recorded 25 genera and 31 species, with descriptions of some new Sabatieriinae currently in press.

In collaboration with:

Wonchoel Lee (Hanyang University)

Grants and awards

2010 ChEss (Census of Marine Life) mini-Grant. “Diversity, dispersal and succession of whale-fall fauna in the deep sea” NHM, London, UK

2009 EU EDIT Traineeship. “Phylogenetic analysis and Biogeography” National Herbarium Netherlands, Universiteit Leiden.

2008 NHM Zoology Research Fund Grant. Funding to undertake personally directed research on “Diversity, dispersal and succession of whale-fall fauna in the deep sea” NHM, London, UK.

2007 EU MARBEF Taxonomy Clearing System. Funded three week visit to provide expertise on nematode identification at the Sea Fisheries Institute, Gdansk, Poland.

1999 NERC CASE PhD Studentship

1996 Colleges-English Nature Link (CEL) Scheme. Funding for Honours Project.

Workshops

2010 (July) ChEss COML Meiofauna, participant, University of Gent, Belgium

2007 (Dec) MARBEF Manuela Nematode Taxonomy, co-hosted with Dr Tim Ferrero, Natural History Museum, London, UK.

2007 (Mar) MARBEF Manuela Experiment, participant, Hel Marine Station, Poland.

2007 (Feb) MARBEF Manuela Workshop, participant, Sines Marine Station, Portugal.

2007 (Jan) Royal Society Benthic Marine Invertebrate Workshop, teaching microscopy, nematode morphology and identification, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

2006 (Sept) MARBEF Manuela Workshop, participant, Hel Marine Station, Poland.

2006 (Sept) MARBEF Manuela Workshop, teaching nematode identification, microscopy, and laboratory methods, Hel Marine Station, Poland. 18 – 25.

Reports

Ferrero TJ and Barnes N. 2010. Assessment of meiofaunal diversity in the Meditteranean deep sea, off Libya.  Data-only report.

Bamber RN, Conroy-Dalton SJA, Barnes N. 2008.  TRANSMAP Workpackage 3 Final Report: i. Biodiversity of the sandy beaches, by meiofaunal analysis. EC Contract no.: PL 510862.EC TRANSMAP project, Transboundary networks of marine protected areas for integrated conservation and sustainable development: biophysical, socio-economic and governance assessment in East Africa (Contract no. PL 510862).

Bamber RN, Conroy-Dalton SJA, Barnes N. 2008.  TRANSMAP Workpackage 3 Final Report: ii. Biodiversity of the sea-grass beds: the meiofauna. EC Contract no.: PL 510862.EC TRANSMAP project, Transboundary networks of marine protected areas for integrated conservation and sustainable development: biophysical, socio-economic and governance assessment in East Africa (Contract no. PL 510862).

Bamber RN, Conroy-Dalton SJA, Barnes N. 2008.  TRANSMAP Workpackage 3 Final Report: iii. Biodiversity of the mangroves: the meiofauna. EC Contract no.: PL 510862.EC TRANSMAP project, Transboundary networks of marine protected areas for integrated conservation and sustainable development: biophysical, socio-economic and governance assessment in East Africa (Contract no. PL 510862).

Ferrero TJ, Barnes N, Arroyo NL, Bennell GM, Cornelius N, Huys R, Lee C, Mustapha M, Olaffsson E, Sebastian S And Bamber RN. 2006. The Meiofauna of Kuwait: A summary of the intertidal and subtidal surveys undertaken by RSK ENSR, The Natural History Museum, and others between 2000-2004. Natural History Museum/RSK ENSR, 2006, 73 pp.

14 reports regarding the intertidal and subtidal marine meiofauna of Kuwait, including:
Ferrero TJ, Barnes N, Arroyo NL, Huys R and Bamber RN. 2006. Environmental monitoring in Kuwait: Marine meiofauna. Data report on the March 2004 intertidal survey. Natural History Museum Consultancy Report to RSK ENSR No. ECM 804G/06, March 2006, 37pp.

Bamber, R., Robbins, R., Ferrero, T., & Barnes, N. 2004. Benthic analysis: the Black Sea at 1200 to 1600 m depth (6265). Natural History Museum Consultancy Report to Gardline Environmental No. ECM 855B/04, December  2004. London: The Natural History Museum.

Bamber RN, Evans NJ, Robbins RS and Barnes N. 2004. Habitats regulations review of consents: Solent and Isle of Wight lagoons survey, Spring 2004. Natural History Museum Consultancy Report to Environment Agency, No. ECM 706F/03, June 2004, 36 pp.

Barnes N and Frid CLJ. 1999. Minestone Disposal at Lynemouth Beach. A review of the interaction with the coastal ecology of Northumberland. A report from the Dove Marine Laboratory, Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, University of Newcastle to RJB Mining (UK) Ltd., Blyth Road, Harworth Park, Doncaster, UK. 70 pp.

Publications

2011
  • Natalie Barnes, Roger N Bamber, Graham Bennell, Nils Cornelius, David Glassom, Sophie Conroy-Dalton Henderson, Narriman Jiddawi, Christine NW Lee, Adriano Macia, Daudi J. Msangameno, José Paula, Saleh Yahya, Timothy J Ferrero ( 2011 ) Assessment of regional and local biodiversity in tropical and subtropical coastal habitats in the East African Marine Ecoregion Biodiversity and Conservation 20 : 2075-2109 . Biodiversity and Conservation | doi: 10.1007/s10531-011-0076-2
2009
  • Barnes N and Ferrero TJ ( 2009 ) Two new species of Manunema (Plectida: Peresianidae) from the Arabian Gulf, with notes on the phylogeny of the genus. Zootaxa 2053 : 43-58 .
2008
2002
  • Birchenough AC, Barnes N, Evans SM, Hinz H, Kronke I and Moss C. ( 2002 ) A review and assessment of tributyltin contamination in the North Sea, based on surveys of butyltin tissue burdens and imposex/intersex in four species of neogastropods Marine Pollution Bulletin 44(6) : 534-543 .
2001
  • Evans SM, Barnes N, Birchenough AC, Brancato MS and Hardman E. ( 2001 ) Tributyltin contamination in two estuaries and adjacent ocean coasts: Puget Sound, Washington, and Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island (USA) Invertebrate Reproduction & Development 39(3) : 221-229 .
1999
  • Barnes N and Frid CLJ. ( 1999 ) Restoring shores impacted by colliery spoil dumping Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 9 : 75-82 .