A most isolated benthos: coastal bryozoans of Bouvet Island
Bouvet Island is, uniquely, thousands of km from the next nearest land, even other islands. Its Southern Ocean location, isolation and the exposure of its surrounding cliffs have resulted in only rare visits by ship and its coastal marine fauna is little known. For animal taxa with non-pelagic larvae, such as cheilostome bryozoans, the shelf environment of Bouvet is a rare example of isolated oceanic communities. Agassiz trawl samples of the 2003 ANT XXI-2 cruise of the PFS Polarstern collected a total of 18 species of cheilostomes at four sites around Bouvet Island. Of these only four had been reported before amongst the 20 species of cheilostome previously known from this locality. Furthermore eight of the genera are reported for the first time from Bouvet Island. The assemblages were dominated by Austroflustra vulgaris, and in one case Nematoflustra flagellata. The bryozoan fauna seems to be depauperate and bears only low (32% at species and 46% at genus level) similarity to any location within 3,000 km. Its species composition is typically Southern Ocean, with most affinity to the Scotia Arc and Weddell Sea whereas at generic level it is most similar to the Subantarctic Prince Edward Archipelago.