PeerJ Award Winners at the 4th Argentine Congress of Malacology

The Argentine Association of Malacology was founded in 2011 and since then has organized three scientific events of national and regional scope known as Congresos Argentinos de Malacología or CAMs (Argentine Congresses of Malacology), held every three years. The purpose of these reunions is to consolidate an opportunity for participation and exchange of ideas and knowledge among researchers, teachers, students and professionals related to malacology, the discipline that deals with the second most diverse group of animals, including octopuses, snails, clams and slugs. In addition, the CAMs are aimed at promoting and stimulating collaboration between working groups from different areas of the country and the region, as well as reaffirming the commitment to promote the study and conservation of mollusks, and the dissemination of scientific knowledge to society.

The 4th Argentine Congress of Malacology (4CAM) represented a national event of international scope that was held in Posadas, Misiones, Argentina from the 24-28th October 2022.  The congress was organized by the Argentine Association of Malacology, in conjunction with the National University of Misiones (UNaM), the Research Group on Molluscan Genetics of the Institute of Subtropical Biology (CONICET – UNaM) and the Misiones Innovation Agency. The academic activities at 4CAM included 7 Conferences, 5 Mini-Courses, 4 Symposia, 4 Round Tables, 1 Discussion Group, 2 Workshops, 1 Dissemination Space and 87 Oral and Poster Presentations. There were also prizes for the best student presentations. Thus, with 118 participants (18% undergraduate students, 19% post-graduate students, 63% professionals), the 4CAM was a great success, with about the 80% of the participants from Argentina and the remaining 20% from six countries: Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Peru. All of the contributions of the 4CAM have been compiled in the 4CAM Abstract Book, which is available at www.4cam.com.ar.

Roberto E. Vogler. President of the 4th Argentine Congress of Malacology

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Ana Carolina Díaz Ph.D Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

Hello everyone!

My name is Ana Carolina Díaz and I have a PhD in Natural Sciences recently graduated from the FCNyM Universidad Nacional de La Plata.

What first interested you in this field of research?

I have always been fascinated by mollusks and being able to research this group is a dream come true. During my undergraduate studies I became interested in Bulimulidae and for my PhD I did my thesis on poorly studied species from Argentina, both taxonomically and ecologically. I tried to put together a thesis that focused on different research angles and that was entitled “Morpho-anatomical and population studies in some species of Bulimulus (Gastropoda: Bulimulidae), mainly in the province of Buenos Aires”.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at 4CAM?

In the first part, shell morphometric, anatomical (reproductive, digestive, nervous and mantle organs) and genetic studies were carried out in three species of Bulimulus: B. bonariensis, B. rushii and B. vesicalis. The second part was related to population studies in B. bonariensis, I studied its growth in the laboratory, analyzed its gametic cycle and gonadal maturity. In the work “Gametic cycle and gonadal maturity in Bulimulus bonariensis (Rafinesque, 1833) (Gastropoda: Bulimulidae) in a rural area of Florencio Varela, Buenos Aires” the stages of gonadic maturation, recruitment times were analyzed, the length at which they reach gonadal maturity was also calculated and relationships between the development of the spermioviduct and the gonadal stage were established. The information provided is important because it will provide basic information to develop population control methods since B. bonariensis was declared dominant in crops of importance in agribusiness such as soybean, chickpea, corn, sunflower, chia and yerbatales, so it is considered a pest with indirect damage.

How will you continue to build on this research?

The results of my thesis work constitute the first comprehensive approach to some Argentine Bulimulus; however, there is still much to be investigated from the taxonomy of the group, biology in general as its life history, ecology, zoogeography, phylogeography, etc. that I hope to address little by little.

 

 

Lucina Migliarini Degree student at Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, Argentina.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I have a degree in Biology Sciences from Buenos Aires University (UBA). From the very beginning, one of my interests was to obtain tools that allow me to protect nature against human activities, and as I have been in contact with the sea since I was a child, I chose the direction of marine biology, always with a focus on conservation. I was a volunteer in two projects on the conservation of sea turtles, in Uruguay and Brazil, and there I saw in person the effects that plastic debris has on marine species. From that experience, I understood that plastic waste is an issue of concern. Also, I realized that co-working with the local communities is essential to raise awareness to generate a change in favor of nature. For this reason, I chose to carry out a research project on microplastic contamination on beaches in Buenos Aires (Argentina), my home place. This project was part of my degree thesis developed at Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What first interested you in this field of research?

The study of emergent contaminants, like microplastics, leads to rethinking how society is connecting with nature, as the presence of these contaminants in the environment is directly related to human activities, consumption habits and waste management.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at 4CAM?

The research I presented at 4CAM consisted of the study of the accumulation of microplastics (< 5 mm) on sediment and in the soft tissue of the mussel Brachidontes rodriguezii from seven beaches located in the southeast Buenos Aires province. This area includes one of the most important cities on the Argentinian coast. The amount and types of microplastics in sediments and mussel soft tissue were analyzed and then related to the granulometry of the beaches and the main human activities carried out there. Large microplastics (1 – 5 mm) and small microplastics (< 1 mm) were analyzed separately in sediment samples and their accumulation was related to possible land-based sources using a semi-quantitative index (LBS). For the analysis of B. rodriguezii specimens, alkaline digestion of the whole soft tissue was implemented and microplastics were counted and classified. Four morphotypes were established for sediment and mussel samples: fiber, fragment, Styrofoam, and pellet. All the beaches studied and 99% of the B. rodriguezii individuals presented microplastics,  with fiber being the most abundant morphotype. No statistically significant relationship was found between the abundance of microplastics and the land-based sources or granulometry. This study suggests B. rodriguezii is suitable for qualitatively monitoring microplastics in coastal ecosystems.

 

How will you continue to build on this research?

In my opinion, after an investigation of this nature, it is important to share the information with the scientific community in the first place and with the public in general. These objectives will be achieved thanks to the prize that was awarded to me at 4CAM to publish my work in PeerJ journal. On the other hand, I was invited to participate in a documentary about environmental awareness. This work is part of a larger one that will involve tracking microplastic pollution on these beaches over time which will allow an understanding of seasonality.

 

 

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