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Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Biology of the Sipuncula
In June 1970, a diverse group of scientists attended the International Symposium on the Biology of the Sipuncula and Echiura at the Marine Biological Station in Kotor, Yugoslavia. Forty-two years later, in June 2012, an aspiring generation of like-minded scientists convened the Second International Symposium on the Biology of the Sipuncula (ISBS2) along the banks of the Fort Pierce Inlet to the Indian River Lagoon in Fort Pierce, Florida, USA. The primary objective of the second symposium was to convene the world’s dedicated sipunculan biologists in one place for a long-overdue face-to-face communication of past, present, and future research. This proceedings volume includes a brief summary of workshop discussions and field events as well as a compilation of selected research papers presented by an international group of 16 scientists from 12 nations in attendance at the ISBS2. Herein, we highlight molecular, developmental, morphological, ecological, and biogeographic diversity of adult and larval sipunculans. In addition, we introduce several of the outstanding research challenges associated with resolving sipunculan interrelationships, establishing standard sets of taxonomic characters, refining methods for identification of cryptic species, reconstructing an evolutionary framework of developmental life history patterns, and addressing implications of recent phylogenetic and phylogenomic hypotheses that have relocated the ancient radiation of unsegmented sipunculan body plans within the predominantly segmented Annelida. Collectively, although we represent a small group of sipunculan biologists (of whom a matching number did not attend the ISBS2), we hope this volume will not only draw attention to an intriguing and notably understudied clade of marine worms but also attract new researchers to help us promote them as valuable experimental models and to include them among broader interdisciplinary efforts to better understand the biological diversity of marine invertebrate animals worldwide.
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