New data on bryozoans in the South Atlantic Ocean

Scuba surveys of the cold waters of South Atlantic islands reveal new bryozoan species

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 196 species occurrences
Paracellaria cellaroides
Paracellaria cellaroides from South Georgia Island. Photo by Adrian James Testa, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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.

Figuerola B, Barnes DKA, Brickle P and Brewin PE (2017) Bryozoan diversity around the Falkland and South Georgia Islands: Overcoming Antarctic barriers. Marine Environmental Research. Elsevier BV 126: 81–94. Available at: