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Abyssal fauna of polymetallic nodule exploration areas, eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone, central Pacific Ocean: Annelida: Capitellidae, Opheliidae, Scalibregmatidae, and TravisiidaeWe present DNA taxonomy of abyssal polychaete worms from the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), central Pacific Ocean, using material collected as part of the Abyssal Baseline (ABYSSLINE) environmental survey cruises ‘AB01’ and ‘AB02’ to the UK Seabed Resources Ltd (UKSRL) polymetallic nodule exploration contract area ‘UK-1’, the Ocean Mineral Singapore exploration contract area ‘OMS-1’ and an Area of Particular Environmental Interest, ‘APEI-6’. This is the fourth paper in a series to provide regional taxonomic data with previous papers reporting on Cnidaria, Echinodermata and Mollusca. Taxonomic data are presented for 23 species from 85 records within four polychaete families: Capitellidae, Opheliidae, Scalibregmatidae and Travisiidae, identified by a combination of morphological and genetic data, including molecular phylogenetic analyses. Two taxa (genetically separated from one another) morphologically matched the same known cosmopolitan species, Ophelina abranchiata that has a type locality in a different ocean basin and depth from where no genetic data was available. These two species were assigned the open nomenclature ‘cf.’ as a precautionary approach in taxon assignments to avoid over-estimating species ranges. Twelve (12) taxa are here described as new species, Ammotrypanella keenani sp. nov., Ammotrypanella kersteni sp. nov., Ophelina curli sp. nov., Ophelina ganae sp. nov., Ophelina juhazi sp. nov., Ophelina martinezarbizui sp. nov., Ophelina meyerae sp. nov., Ophelina nunnallyi sp. nov., Oligobregma brasierae sp. nov., Oligobregma tani sp. nov., Oligobregma whaleyi sp. nov. and Travisia zieglerae sp. nov. For the remaining nine taxa, we have determined them to be potentially new species, for which we make the raw data, imagery and vouchers available for future taxonomic study. The CCZ is a region undergoing intense exploration for potential deep-sea mineral extraction from polymetallic nodules. We present these data to facilitate future taxonomic and environmental impact study by making both data and voucher materials available through curated and accessible biological collections.
Taxonomy and phylogeny of mud owls (Annelida: Sternaspidae), including a new synonymy and new records from the Southern Ocean, North East Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean: challenges in morphological delimitationSpecies delimitation in sternaspid polychaetes is currently based on the morphology of a limited suite of characters, namely characters of the ventro-caudal shield—a unique feature of the family. Sternaspid species description has increased rapidly in recent years; however, the validity of the shield as a diagnostic character has not been assessed through molecular means. This study performs the largest molecular taxonomy of Sternaspidae to date, using the nuclear gene 18S, and the mitochondrial genes 16S and cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) to assess phylogenetic relationships within the family, to reassess the placement of Sternaspidae within the wider polychaete tree and to investigate the effectiveness of the shield as a diagnostic morphological character. This study includes many new records and reports Sternaspis affinis Stimpson, 1864 from USA Pacific coastline and genetic connectivity between specimens identified as Sternaspis cf. annenkovae Salazar-Vallejo & Buzhinskaja, 2013 from off southeastern Australia and specimens identified as Sternaspis cf. williamsae Salazar-Vallejo & Buzhinskaja, 2013 from the northwestern Pacific. In addition, we investigate material identified as Sternaspis cf. scutata (Ranzani, 1817) in the English Channel and compare with S. scutata through both molecular and morphological means. We further perform a detailed morphological and molecular investigation of new sternaspid material collected from the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Peninsula and regard Sternaspis monroi Salazar-Vallejo, 2014 syn. n. as a junior synonym of Sternaspis sendalli Salazar-Vallejo, 2014, two species recently described from the region, raising questions concerning the validity of current morphological delimitation.