Polychaete assemblage composition and distribution from Australia’s Eastern Abyss

[from Deep-Sea Life Vol 12]

Polychaete assemblage composition and distribution from Australia’s Eastern Abyss

Laetitia Gunton (1), Elena Kupriyanova (1,2), Pat Hutchings (1,2), Robin Wilson (3), Anna Murray (1), Hannelore Paxton (1,2),
Ingo Burghardt (1), Jinghuai Zhang (1,4), Tim O’Hara (3)

(1) Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia;
(2) Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia; (3) Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, VIC 3001,
Australia; (4) South China Sea Environmental Monitoring Center, State Oceanic Administration, 155 Xingangxi Road,
Guangzhou, P. R. China

Email: Laetitia.gunton@austmus.gov.au

The abyssal environment makes up around 30% of Australia’s marine territory, and off the east coast the shelf break usually occurs within only 15 km of the shoreline. Despite this, very few studies have investigated the Australian abyssal environment. The 31-day expedition ‘Sampling the Abyss’ on board the Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator, led by Museums Victoria and supported by CSIRO and NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub in 2017, was the first Australian research cruise focused on investigating the abyssal environment from Tasmania to southern Queensland. Forty-nine beam trawl samples were collected from 13 sites. These trawl samples were conducted at both lower bathyal (~ 2500 m) and abyssal depths (~ 4000 m). A total of about 600 polychaetes from 24 families were recorded, with Ampharetidae, Maldanidae and Onuphidae being the most abundant polychaete families. Further investigation into these families revealed new species and interesting patterns in species abundance and distribution between sample sites and sample depths. This project will contribute to the understanding of polychaete abundance, diversity and connectivity in the poorly-sampled deep-sea environment off the coast of Australia. To view our poster from the Deep-sea Biology Conference 2018 please see here or for more information contact me (Laetitia.gunton@austmus.gov.au).

Polychaete specimens from 1000 m water depth beam trawl. Above left: two Aphroditidae scale worms; above right: a Eunicidae polycahaete worm on Solenosmilia coral. Images: Laetitia Gunton, CSIRO


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *