An Antarctic shelf population of the deep-sea, Pacific brachiopod Neorhynchia strebeli
Thirty-five specimens of the articulate brachiopod Neorhynchia strebeli were collected from a site at 814 m in the Weddell Sea. This was only the second species of the order Rhynchonellida to be found in Antarctica. Formerly N. strebeli was known solely from abyssal Pacific Ocean localities. A circumantarctic distribution is suggested in addition to the known deep-sea Pacific range. The specimens of this collection showed considerable commissure variation, suggesting that the previously proposed erection of two subspecies on the basis of this character is erroneous, and emphasises the phenotypic plasticity of some articulate brachiopods. The valve lengths and the number of alpha growth rings in the sample showed a normal distribution and a von Bertalanffy growth function was fitted to the data: Lt = 23 (1-exp[-0·228t]). If the alpha growth rings were of annual periodicity, the ages attained by the Antarctic N. strebeli of 11 y would be substantially lower than those reported for other Weddell Sea brachiopods. The epibiotic communities occurring on the valves of N. strebeli were impoverished, which is characteristic of deep water Antarctic brachiopods. The few specimens collected with their substratum were attached to small pebbles, but the typical attachment substrata may be different.