Headline for Featured Item #1 Michael Reuscher Discovers Two New Species of ‘Spaghetti Worms’ Important to the Ocean Food Chain - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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Michael Reuscher Discovers Two New Species of ‘Spaghetti Worms’ Important to the Ocean Food Chain

May 17, 2012

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Michael Reuscher, a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Marine Biology Ph.D. candidate, recently described two new species of "spaghetti worms" (terebellid polychaetes), the first species that have been found at hydrothermal vents, habitats in the oceans where water is heated to up to 750 °F and enriched with minerals.

Reuscher is co-author of a research article on this topic that will be published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (vol. 92, issue 4) in May. He is also a graduate research assistant for the Harte Research Institute for the Gulf of Mexico Studies. 

Reuscher, who came to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2008 from Heidelberg, Germany, has already discovered 20 new species of "ocean earthworms" from Japan, and eight new species from different regions in the Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea.  He says that these species are so important because they provide food for other animals, such as crabs, and many commercial fish.

"If you were to take away the polychaetes, the abundance of food would dramatically decrease," he said. "These worms also redistribute the nutrients in ocean floor sediment and increase oxygenation." 

Reuscher adds that another concern is scientists are losing species at a faster rate than they are discovering them.

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