Project Information
SGER: Dispersal of Planktonic Invertebrate Larvae and the Biogeography of the Antarctic Benthos
Start Date:
End Date:
Because of the extreme isolation of Antarctica since the early Oligocene one can expect to encounter a unique invertebrate fauna with a high degree of endemism. Yet, some benthic taxa include from 20 to >50 percent non-endemic species. To account for such species it has been proposed that an intermittent reciprocal exchange must occur between the antiboreal populations of South America and the Antarctic continent. One possible means by which the geographical distribution can be maintained and genetic exchange may be accomplished is by the passive dispersal of planktonic larvae. To show that such dispersal is actually accomplished it must be demonstrated that (1) larvae of sublittoral species actually are found within the Drake passage and that such larvae belong to species that occur both in the antiboreal South American and Antarctic faunas and (2) that a hydrographic mechanism exists that can explain how the passive transport of larvae may occur between the two continents. The proposed research will address these two requirements by making transects of plankton samples across the Drake passage and by examining the possibility of cross frontal exchange of larvae at the subantarctic and polar fronts of the Antarctic circumpolar current as well as the possible transport of larvae in mesoscale rings. The outcome may suggest species that in the future may profitably be examined using molecular techniques, comparing individuals from bottom populations of South America and Antarctica. The study necessarily must be of a very preliminary nature since the occurrence of planktonic larvae of sublittoral benthic species in the Drake Passage has never before been examined.
Person Role
Scheltema, Rudolf Investigator
Veit, Richard Investigator
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 9910164
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
R2R Expedition Data None exist
  1. Hunter, R. L., Brown, L. M., Alexander Hill, C., Kroeger, Z. A., & Rose, S. E. (2016). Additional insights into phylogenetic relationships of the Class Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) from rRNA gene sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 54(4), 269–275. (doi:10.1111/jzs.12135)
Platforms and Instruments

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