An extensive museum collection of Atlantic deep-sea mollusks

[From Deep-Sea Life 11, available here]

Michael A. Rex (1), Carol T. Stuart (1) & John A. Allen (2)
(1) Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, USA; (2) University Marine Biological Station, Millport, Scotland

The gastropod and bivalve material collected by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Deep-Sea Benthic Sampling Program (Sanders, 1977) has now been accessioned and catalogued in the Mollusk Department of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. The collection comprises over 110,000 individuals distributed among more than 1000 species dredged by epibenthic sleds from basins in the Atlantic (North American, Western European, Gambia, Guiana, Brazil, Angola, Cape and Argentine). Most of the material is classified as macrobenthos. A detailed description of the gastropod samples is provided by Stuart and Rex (2009), and for bivalves by Allen (2008). This is one of the largest museum collections of deep-sea mollusks, both in terms of biodiversity and geographic coverage. Specimens are preserved in alcohol and are maintained as a separate collection. It is an indispensible resource for taxonomy and biogeography, as well as studies of larval development and dispersal, connectivity, phenotypic and genetic analyses of population differentiation and speciation, adaptation to deep-sea conditions, and functional ecology. As exploration of the deep sea continues, carefully archived material and associated databases will have vital roles in understanding global biogeography, developing conservation protocols to preserve biodiversity, and detecting the effects of climate change. To work with the collection, please contact Adam Baldinger, Curatorial Associate ( For the database on museum holdings, please see

The gastropod Oocorys sulcata Fisher 1884, collected at 3300 m along the Gay Head-Bermuda Transect south of New England (from Rex et al. 2010).

H.L. Sanders (1977). Evolutionary ecology of dee-sea benthos. In: The changing scenes in natural sciences 1776–1976, C. E. Goulden (Ed.), Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.
J.A. Allen (2008). Bivalvia of the deep Atlantic. Malacologia 50: 57-173.
C.T. Stuart, M.A. Rex (2009). Bathymetric patterns of deep‐sea gastropod species diversity in 10 basins of the Atlantic Ocean and Norwegian Sea. Marine Ecology 30: 164-180.
M.A. Rex, C.T. Stuart, R.J. Etter, C.R. McClain (2010). Biogeography of the deep-sea gastropod Oocorys sulcata Fischer 1884. Journal of Conchology 40: 287-290.

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