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PYCNOIB: Biodiversity and biogeography of Iberian pycnogonids

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posted on 2015-02-11, 11:51 authored by Anna Soler-membrivesAnna Soler-membrives

Biodiversity and biogeographic studies comparing the distribution patterns of benthic marine organisms across the Iberian Atlantic and Mediterranean waters are scarce. The Pycnogonida (sea spiders) are a clear example of both endemicity and diversity, and are considered a key taxon to study and monitor biogeographic and biodiversity patterns. This is the first review that compiles data about abundance and diversity of Iberian pycnogonids and examines their biogeographic patterns and bathymetric constraints using GIS tools. A total of 17762 pycnogonid records from 343 localities were analyzed and were found to contain 65 species, 21 genera and 12 families. Achelia echinata and Ammothella longipes (family Acheliidae) were the most abundant comprising ~80% of the total records. The Acheliidae is also the most speciose in Iberian waters with 15 species. In contrast, the family Nymphonidae has 7 species but is significantly less abundant (<1% of the total records) than Acheliidae. Species accumulation curves indicate that further sampling would increase the number of Iberian species records. Current sampling effort suggests that the pycnogonid fauna of the Mediterranean region may be richer than that of the Atlantic. The Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea are recognized as species-rich areas that act as buffer zones between the Atlantic and Mediterranean boundaries. The deep waters surrounding the Iberian Peninsula are poorly surveyed, with only 15% of the sampling sites located below 1000 m. Further deep-water sampling is needed mainly on the Iberian Mediterranean side.