New Marine Worms Discovered In Antarctica

Japanese researchers have discovered two new species of marine worms near the Syowa Station in Antarctica.

AsianScientist (Feb. 16, 2017) – A team of Japanese scientists has discovered two new species of marine worm near Japan’s Syowa Station in Antarctica. Their findings, published in Zootaxa, reveal how animals adapt to extreme environments.

In 2015, a team of researchers including Dr. Keiichi Kakui, a lecturer at Hokkaido University, and Dr. Megumu Tsujimoto, a postdoctoral researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research, started researching marine specimens stored at the institute, as well as newly collected specimens. As a part of this process, they conducted microscopic analyses to examine two annelid worms that scuba divers collected on January 16, 1981, at Nishinoura near Syowa Station.

The worm found nine meters deep turned out to be a new, unnamed polychaete—a variety with a thick, gel-like coat and long, conspicuous bristles. The team named the new species Flabegraviera fujiae, taking after the icebreaker ship “Fuji” used in the expedition in 1981. The specimen collected eight meters deep was recognized as Flabegraviera mundata, and was deemed to have been collected at the shallowest depth ever recorded for the Flabegraviera genus.

“This study is a major step forward in understanding marine life in the coastal region near Syowa Station,” said Kakui, “The Flabegraviera genus, to which the three species belong, is unique to the Antarctic and considered a good example for studying how polychaetes adapt to extreme environments.”

Now that it has become clear that polychaetes inhabit depths reachable by scuba divers, the researchers hope to conduct experiments using living specimens to gain a deeper understanding of marine life in the area, helping to create an information infrastructure vis-à-vis local biodiversity.

The article can be found at: Jimi et al. (2016) GA new species and the shallowest record of Flabegraviera Salazar-Vallejo, 2012 (Annelida: Flabelligeridae) from Antarctica.


Source: Hokkaido University.
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