Have we so far only seen the tip of the iceberg? Exploring species diversity and distribution of the giant amphipod Eurythenes

charlotte.havermans [ at ] awi.de


Additional material of the iconic giant amphipod Eurythenes was investigated. Recently, the species E. gryllus has been separated into 12 distinct species-level lineages of which several have been described as distinct species, based on both morphology and genetics. This study revealed three additional species-level lineages from unique sampling localities, showing that with minimal sampling effort, species diversity within Eurythenes can still increase. One species-level lineage was found in the Indian Ocean and another one in the Pacific, which was subsequently identified as E. thurstoni. In addition to the three species already reported from the Southern Ocean (E. maldoror, E. gryllus s.s. and E. andhakarae), a supplementary bathyal species was found in the Weddell Sea. E. gryllus was confirmed to be amphitropical including newly sampled localities around the Kerguelen Islands and additional samples from the Svalbard Archipelago. Building on new and earlier data, geographic and bathymetric distributions of the different species that have been discovered so far are presented here and several factors are evaluated for their likelihood of having triggered past speciation events in this scavenger. Topographic and hydrographical features are discussed but rejected as sufficient reasons for the distributional patterns observed. Bathymetric segregation is interpreted with regard to what is known about the ecology of the species. The previously reported genetic break around 3000 m persists in this new data-set for all species but one. This study underlines the need of processing all individuals sampled, since two or more sympatric species are found in different proportions, and that conclusions regarding diversity and distribution may drastically change when increasing sampling intensity and coverage. Finally, I suggest here that only a mere fraction of all Eurythenes species has yet been discovered and that a more complete knowledge of the ecology of the species is of paramount importance for interpreting their evolution.

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DOI 10.1080/14888386.2016.1172257

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Havermans, C. (2016): Have we so far only seen the tip of the iceberg? Exploring species diversity and distribution of the giant amphipod Eurythenes , Biodiversity, 17 (1-2), pp. 12-25 . doi: 10.1080/14888386.2016.1172257

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