Polychaetes from Australia’s Eastern Abyss

More than 90 species of polychaete worms collected during the 2017 ‘Sampling the Abyss’ voyage are thought to be new to science. CSIRO’s RV Investigator took the first ever biological samples from the large abyssal environments in Australian Marine Parks – from Tasmania to Queensland – on the voyage led by Museums Victoria and supported by the Marine Biodiversity Hub. Scientists from four agencies have identified 114 species from 33 families among the 2357 specimens. Polychaetes dominate many seafloor communities, and scientists have formally named 12 000 species. Patterns in the distribution of all the polychaetes sampled will be studied to understand how deep-sea populations are connected along Australia’s eastern abyss, and how the Australian abyss compares with abyssal environments worldwide. The new polychaete species from Australia’s abyss will also be formally described. These results were summarised in a presentation led by Laetitia Gunton of the Australian Museum at the 15th Deep Sea Biology Symposium held at Monterey, California, USA, in September 2018.

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