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LSU ichthyologist lands major grant to study fish family history
Date:11/2/2009

BATON ROUGE Prosanta Chakrabarty has been curator of ichthyology, or fishes, at the LSU Museum of Natural Sciences for a little more than one year, and he's already landed two major catches: a large grant from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, and the discovery of two new species of fish found in Louisiana.

The two new species were discovered when Chakrabarty and a Taiwanese colleague, Hsuan-ching "Hans" Ho, were looking through jars of batfish collected from the Gulf of Mexico.

"We realized that what was thought to be one widespread variable species was in fact three species," he said. On his first opportunity to do so, Chakrabarty jumped on a research vessel trawling off the coast of Louisiana and managed to collect fresh specimens of the new species he is describing. "Most people in Louisiana probably don't know that there are new species of fish right here in our state," he said.

The grant, titled "Reconstructing Heroini (Teleostei: Cichlidae) Of Heroes, Convicts, Angels and Red Devils," gives Chakrabarty approximately $520,000 from the NSF and will fund his ambitious and ongoing efforts to untangle and update the complex genetic heritage of heroine cichlid fishes. It also has the potential for supporting the discovery of additional new species.

"Getting a grant this large that focuses on taxonomy is very unusual it's kind of a dying art," said Chakrabarty. "The funds will help me to do a great deal of taxonomic work, as well as hire post-doctoral students and train workers from some of the areas I collect specimens from."

Cichlids are some of the most popular recreational and aquarium fishes in the world. With more than 2,000 species of cichlids, most carrying unique names like the Jack Dempsey and the Red Devil, they attract a near cult following. They also possess an unusual degree of intelligence. That, paired with the fact that cichlids have the longest period of parental care, keeping watch over offspr
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Contact: Ashley Berthelot
aberth4@lsu.edu
225-578-3870
Louisiana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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