Ben Burnett

Ben Burnett
University of WA
Examined cryptic speciation in the Sandpaper Skate (Bathyraja interrupta) using genetic methods.

During the summer, I sequenced samples of the Sand Paper Skate from across the North Pacific and West Coast of the United States. Previous genetic work suggests that more than one genetic haplotype exists at the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) mitochondrial DNA region in Sandpaper Skate (Bathyraja interrupta). My work confirmed that as many as 6 distinct haplotypes exist, and most appear to be spatially segregated. Future work on morphology and meristics in this species will determine whether B. interrupta actually comprises multiple species. In addition to examination of adult samples, I sequenced 60 embryo samples from a nursery site in the Bering Sea where B. interrupta are known to deposit their eggs. I found 5 haplotypes at the nursery site, one of which was not observed in any adult samples. This project will eventually lead to answering whether B. interrupta consists of more than one species and will help us better understand the reproductive biology of the species or species complex.

Examples of sandpaper skate embyro and juvenile.