Terrence Gosliner

  • Senior Curator and Dean of Science and Research Collections, Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Chair
  • Invertebrate Zoology and Geology
  • PhD

As Dean of Science and Research Collections, Dr. Terrence Gosliner oversees the scientific research programs and staff at the California Academy of Sciences.

 

He guides the Academy’s efforts in research to discover new knowledge about life's diversity, and to use that knowledge to promote the future health of biological diversity, and better understand mechanisms of evolutionary change. The scientific staff includes 19 curators and about 80 research staff, postdoctoral associates, and students.  Research disciplines include evolutionary biology, systematics, conservation biology and genetics, as well as anthropology, botany, comparative genomics, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, and ornithology. Dr. Gosliner also oversees the care and wise use of the Academy’s research collections—an invaluable resource including more than 26 million scientific specimens from around the world.

 

Dr. Gosliner is also a leading researcher in the evolutionary history of nudibranchs (the colorful group also known as sea slugs), and has published more than 150 scientific papers and five books in his career.  His research focuses on the evolution and adaptive radiation of opisthobranch mollusks, especially nudibranchs or sea slugs.  He utilizes phylogenetic techniques, both morphological and molecular to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of major groups of opisthobranchs.  With these phylogenies he studies adaptive radiation, evolution of color patterns and implications to conservation biology.  Fundamental studies of opisthobranchs also focus on documenting biodiversity, with a focus on the Coral Triangle of the western Pacific. Approximately 40-60% of the species have been collected from tropical regions are undescribed species and currently members of our lab are describing many of these species within taxonomic revisions.  Additionally he has conducted extensive field-work in southern Africa, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands and California. His work has been supported by NSF to train the next generation of opisthobranch workers and including undergraduates, Masters’ students, Ph.D students and postdoctoral fellows. Other aspects have been supported by several grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and California Sea Grant.

 

His field studies have uncovered more than one thousand new species, and have taken him to southern Africa, the western Indian Ocean, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Hawaii. Since 1992, he has focused his research on the nudibranch fauna of the reefs of the Philippines, documenting the most diverse marine ecosystems of the world. He was instrumental in developing the Philippine coral reef exhibit at the Academy and has worked actively to strengthen ties with Bay Area Filipino communities.  He also has extensive experience in building collaborations to support sustainable management and conservation of the rich reefs of the Philippines. Dr. Gosliner is also a champion of educational outreach, particularly in the Philippines, where he has worked with local researchers, educators and community leaders to share knowledge and resources with locals, empowering them to prioritize conservation in Philippine waters rich with biodiversity. He recently returned from leading the 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition that documented remarkable new biodiversity from Philippine forest, coral reefs and deep-sea environments.

 

Dr. Gosliner first joined the Academy as an Assistant Curator in 1982, and has previously served as Director of Research, and Provost of the Academy. 

 

Dr. Gosliner received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley in 1972, his Masters of Science from the University of Hawaii in 1973 and his Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

A.B. University of California, Berkeley (1972); M.S. University of Hawaii (1973); Ph.D. University of New Hampshire (1978). Lecturer, University of New Hampshire (1978-79). Curator of Molluscs, South African Museum (1979-82). Post Doctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution (1983-84). Assistant Curator, California Academy of Sciences (1982-1985); Associate Curator (1985-1990); Senior Curator (1990- ). Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, Hennig Society. Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution. President, Western Society of Malacologists (1985). President, California Malacozoological Society (1987-1996); Vice-President (1996- ). American Malacological Society President (1999-2000). American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pacific Division President (2008). Councillor, American Malacological Union. Member, Society of Systematic Zoology, American Society of Zoologists.

My research focuses on the evolution and adaptive radiation of opisthobranch mollusks, especially nudibranchs or sea slugs.  I utilize phylogenetic techniques, both morphological and molecular to reconstruct the evolutionary replationships of major groups of opisthobranchs.  With these phylogenies I study adaptive radiation, evolution of color patterns and implications to conservation biology.  Fundamental studies of opisthobranchs also focus on documenting biodiversity, with a focus on the Coral Triangle of the western Pacific. We have conducted collaborative research in the Philippines since 1992. Approximately 40-60% of the species have been collected from tropical regions are undescribed species and currently members of our lab are describing many of these species within taxonomic revisions.  Additionally I have conducted extensive field-work in southern Africa, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands and California. My work is supported by NSF to train the next generation of opisthobranch workers and including undergraduates, Masters’ students, Ph.D students and postdoctoral fellows. This work has been supported by several grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and California Sea Grant. I hold adjunct faculty appointments at Stanford, U.C. Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University.

Understanding the evolutionary relationships and distribution patterns of organisms is fundamental to most systematic research. My primary interest is the evolutionary history of gastropod mollusks, particularly the Opisthobranchia (nudibranchs and other sea slugs). Snails have independently evolved into slugs on numerous occasions. With the loss of the shell, the gill cavity and internal organs shift position, the nervous system becomes more concentrated, and the hermaphroditic (both male and female organs in a single individual) reproductive ducts become divided and more specialized. These changes have also occurred independently in various lineages of opisthobranchs. This parallel evolution makes opisthobranchs particularly interesting and problematic to modern techniques for determining the sequence of evolutionary change and has broad implications to phylogenetic methodology in general.

During their evolution, opisthobranchs have developed a wide range of toxic and noxious chemicals, largely derived from their prey. Toxicity provides effective protection from predators and has permitted this group of snails to discard their shells. Many opisthobranchs are brightly colored, warning visual predators of the toxicity. This aposematic coloration also involves elaborate patterns, that are shared among members of mimetic complexes, consisting of other groups of snails, flatworms, and sea cucumbers. Coloration related to toxicity has played a major part in the adaptive radiation and diversification of opisthobranchs.

Most opisthobranchs have a shelled larva capable of dispersing over large distances. Many opisthobranchs are therefore distributed widely within the world's oceans. The study of these patterns of biogeography is essential to the understanding of evolution of opisthobranchs.

My field studies have taken me to southern Africa, the western Indian Ocean, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Hawaii. I have also collected extensively in the Caribbean, the Azores, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha, Baja California, the Galapagos, and the Atlantic and Pacific United States.

Pola, Marta, Juan Lucas Cervera and Terrence M. Gosliner.  2008. Revision of the Indo-Pacific genus Nembrotha (Nudibranchia: Dorididae: Polyceridae) with the description of two new species. Scientia Marina 72 (1): 145-183.

Gosliner, Terrence M. and Shireen Fahey. 2008. Systematics of Trapania (Nudibranchia: Goniodorididae) with descriptions of sixteen new species. Systematics and Biodiversity 6 (1): 53-98

Camacho Garcia, Yolanda and Terrence M. Gosliner. 2008. Phylogeny of the genus Jorunna Bergh, 1876 (Nudibranchia: Discodorididae. Journal of the Molluscan Studies 74:143-181.

Ortiz, Delisse and Terrence M. Gosliner. 2008. Preliminary phylogeny of the facelinid nudibranch genus Phyllodesmium Ehrenberg, 1831. The Veliger 50 (1): 1-23.

Hermosillo, Alicia and Terrence M. Gosliner. 2008. The opisthobranch fauna of the Archiepiélago de Revillagigedo, Mexican Pacific. Festivus 40(2): 25-34.

Gosliner, Terrence M.,  Manuel M. González-Duarte and Juan Lucas Cervera. 2007. Revision of the systematics of Babakina Roller, 1973 (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia) with the description of a new species and a phylogenetic analysis. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 151:671-689.

 Abstracts and reviews:

Gosliner, T. M. 2007. Global opisthobranch biodiversity: Are they evolving faster than we can find them? Invited symposium, Inventorying the molluscan fauna of the world: frontiers and perspectives, World Congress of Malacology, Antwerp, Belgium, 15-20 July 2007

Gosliner, T. M. 2008. Systematics and Biodiversity of Dermatobranchus (Nudibranchia: Arminina) in the tropical Indo-Pacific. Western Society of Malacologists meeting, June 5-7,2008, Menlo Park, CA

Gosliner, T. M. 2008. Presidential Address: Philippine Coral Reefs: An Integrative Approach to Research, Education, Animal Husbandry and Public Outreach. AAAS Pacific Division meeting, June 2008, Waimea, Hawai’i.

Gosliner, T. M. 2008. Invited Symposium: Past and Future of the Fauna of the Pacific Basin: Documenting Species Diversity Along the Verde Island Passage, Philippines: the apex of the Apex of the Coral Triangle. AAAS Pacific Division meeting, June 2008, Waimea, Hawai’i.

Contact

  • Terrence Gosliner
  • Senior Curator and Dean of Science and Research Collections, Harry W. and Diana V. Hind Chair
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5269 (direct)