The cold, nutrient-rich waters of the South Atlantic Ocean are biodiversity hotspots due to the Antartic Circumpolar Current, but also some of the fastest warming waters in the world. This study aimed to produce new species occurrence data on cheilostome bryozoans from the waters of the Falkland (Malvinas) and South Georgia Islands, two clusters on each side of the Polar Front, to better understand spatial relationships within the region.
Through scuba sampling surveys, the study recovered 351 bryozoan samples including 18 and 23 potentionally new genera and species, respectively. Combined with existing, mainly GBIF-mediated data, the findings expand the known ranges of 32 species. The surveys include the first reported occurrences of 43 species around the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands and ten species around the South Georgia Islands.
The study demonstrates that the islands of the South Atlantic are poorly explored, and the data uncovered suggests that biogeographic barrier of the Polar Front is not as impermeable as previously thought.