The recent discussion of the perennial Capitella problem prompted me to take a closer look at what material is available in the collections of the Zoological Museum here in Copenhagen. There are literally hundreds - and probably thousands - of specimens from Greenland labelled as Capitella capitata. They derive from a multitude of localities all along the west and southeast coasts, with especially large numbers from Godhavn (Qeqertarssuaq - material published on by Mark Curtis). Unfortunately, Frederikshaab District (the type locality - I refer to Cricket's earlier message here) is particularly isolated, even by Greenlandic standards. Apart from Godhavn, there is a great concentration of samples from the southwest tip of the island (between Julianehaab and Cape Farewell), but very few from Frederikshaab District. However, among these there is one interesting sample from 1912 taken very close to the settlement of Frederikshaab (where Fabricius' church was), but from a depth of 115 m. It contains two relatively large anterior ends, although I must note that none of the Greenlandic animals quite reach the earthworm size indicated by Fabricius. Interestingly, several other samples (not near Frederikshaab) appear to be from shallow water, i.e., the habitat indicated by Fabricius.
All this material is probably of interest in morphological studies only. There is the odd chance that some of the older specimens were preserved directly in alcohol, but the only way to find out now would be to test tissue samples and see what happens. In any case, I would be happy to make any or all of the Greenlandic material available to anyone committed to carrying out a serious investigation.
But this is clearly a case where molecular data would be particularly valuable, so fresh material is needed - even if some of the above samples prove to contain intact DNA. As Kristian correctly remarks, Reinhardt Møbjerg Kristensen routinely travels to the Arctic Station in Godhavn (which celebrates its 100 year anniversary in August), but this locality is actually about 550 km north of Frederikshaab. Of course, climate change in Greenland is very real (no matter what Bush thinks) and it is probably warmer in Godhavn now than it was in Frederikshaab in Fabricius' day, so freshly collected material might be of interest. If someone who actually would persue this is interested, I could talk to Reinhardt about getting appropriate material the next time he is in the area.
Another West Greenlandic locality that is being studied relatively intensely is the Ikka Fjord, which is about 100 km south of Frederikshaab and thus not uninteresting. However, this is a wierd fjord for reasons that I will not get into here. Thus, I have earlier identified a large number of polychaete samples from this fjord, containing a total of 40 species but no Capitella or any other capitellid.
Anyways, potentially interesting material is available in our collections, so anybody daring enough to take on this task is welcome to contact me and we'll set something up.
With best regards,
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø
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