Calcifying plankton are amongst the most vulnerable organisms to imminent ocean changes, including ocean acidification and ocean warming. As a considerable part of the ocean food web, it is important to understand how calcifying plankton will be affected by these changes. However, responses to environmental changes are often species-specific, so it is essential to first understand the taxonomy and distribution of a plankton group, before the effects environmental change can be investigated.
The Shelled Heteropod Identification Portal (SHIP) is part of on-going research into shelled heteropods (atlantids) carried out in principal by Dr Deborah Wall-Palmer. The research uses a wide range of interdisciplinary techniques to determine fundamental information about atlantids, such as biogeography, and to use this to interpret how they have responded to past environmental change, as well as predicting their likely fate in the future ocean. This research was initially funded by the Leverhulme Trust at Plymouth University, UK, as part of the project ‘Shelled heteropods: morphology, molecular taxonomy and global distributions’ (PI Dr C.W. Smart, Dr Richard Kirby, RPG-2013-363, 2014-2017). Dr Wall-Palmer now continues research into shelled heteropods under the POSIEDoN project (2017-2019), funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden.
One of our core aims is to increase awareness of shelled heteropods and to promote their identification. We hope that this website will help you to identify your specimens. It is still something of a work in progress and we would appreciate any feedback and suggestions that you have.