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Comparative marine biodiversity and depth zonation in the Southern Ocean: evidence from a new large polychaete dataset from Scotia and Amundsen seas


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Neal, L, Linse, K, Brasier, MJ ORCID: 0000-0003-2844-655X, Sherlock, E and Glover, AG 2018 , 'Comparative marine biodiversity and depth zonation in the Southern Ocean: evidence from a new large polychaete dataset from Scotia and Amundsen seas' , Marine Biodiversity, vol. 48 , 581–601 , doi: 10.1007/s12526-017-0735-y.

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Based on a dataset of 16,991 and 307 morphospecies of polychaete worms collected from 58 epibenthic sledge deployments across the Scotia and Amundsen Seas, we show that the structures of their shelf, deep-shelf and slope communities are composed of distinct polychaete assemblages spanning regions with “high”, “intermediate”, and “low” biodiversity. Depth has been identified as the main factor structuring the polychaete communities in both seas, countering the prevalent notion of extended eurybathy of the Southern Ocean benthos. From an evolutionary perspective, this strong dissimilarity between shelf and slope fauna could be interpreted as evidence for survival in shelf refugias, rather than migration into deeper waters during glacial maxima. The previously unsampled Amundsen Sea is shown to be diverse, harbouring a high level of taxonomic novelty, with many species new to science. The polychaete community of the inner shelf in the Amundsen Sea (Pine Island Bay) has also been shown to be of deep-sea character, likely due to intrusion of the Circumpolar Deep Water onto the shelf. In the Scotia Sea, our data support the notion of relatively high biodiversity of waters around the South Orkney Islands, South Georgia, and Shag Rocks (all recently established as Marine Protected Areas) and depressed diversity in the extreme environment of Southern Thule.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Neal, L and Linse, K and Brasier, MJ and Sherlock, E and Glover, AG
Keywords: Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Amundsen Sea, Scotia Sea, Annelida, Polychaeta, taxonomy, deep sea, depth zonation
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Biodiversity
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1867-1616
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s12526-017-0735-y
Copyright Information:

Copyright The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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