Bathymetric distribution patterns of Southern Ocean macrofaunal taxa: Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Isopoda and Polychaeta
The aim of this study is to compare the depth distributions of four major Southern Ocean macrobenthic epi- and infaunal taxa, the Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Isopoda, and Polychaeta, from subtidal to abyssal depth. All literature data up to summer 2008, as well as the unpublished data from the most recent ANDEEP I-III (Antarctic benthic deep-sea biodiversity: colonisation history and recent community patterns) expeditions to the Southern Ocean deep sea are included in the analysis. Benthic invertebrates in the Southern Ocean are known for their wide bathymetric ranges. We analysed the distributions of four of the most abundant and species-rich taxa from intertidal to abyssal (5200 m) depths in depth zones of 100 m. The depth distributions of three macrofaunal classes (Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Polychaeta) and one order (Isopoda) showed distinct differences. In the case of bivalves, gastropods and polychaetes, the number of species per depth zone decreased from the shelf to the slope at around 1000 m depth and then showed stable low numbers. The isopods showed the opposite trend; they were less species rich in the upper 1000 m but increased in species numbers from the slope to bathyal and abyssal depths. Depth ranges of families of the studied taxa (Bivalvia: 31 families, Gastropoda: 60, Isopoda: 32, and Polychaeta: 46 families) were compiled and illustrated. At present vast areas of the deep sea in the Southern Ocean remain unexplored and species accumulation curves showed that only a fraction of the species have been discovered to date. We anticipate that further investigations will greatly increase the number of species known in the Southern Ocean deep sea. (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd.