A baseline record of the marine fauna of St. Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands, was established during the Statia Marine Biodiversity Expedition in June 2015, which was a 3-week, 20-person survey of the waters surrounding that island. The present report lists a total of 366 species of marine molluscs in six classes; 207 are new records for the island, including several rarities. Range extensions of over 1,000 and 2,000 km respectively are reported for Doriprismatica sedna (Ev. Markus & Er. Markus, 1967) and Melibe arianeae Espinoza, DuPont & Valdés, 2013. Other species are new records for the Eastern Caribbean ecoregion. The recently described species Parvilucina latens J. D. Taylor & Glover, 2016, previously only known from Guadeloupe, is reported from St. Eustatius. Specimens identified as Eulithidium sp., Parvioris sp., and Petallifera sp., may belong to as yet undescribed species.
Forty-one species of marine mollusks are added to the checklist for Saba island. The majority of records are from Rüdiger Bieler, who observed and identified species in 2010 as empty shells, via SCUBA.
The ANEMOON Foundation is a Dutch volunteer organization of citizen scientists who are interested in sea life. The Foundation has started a project to make an inventory of the underwater life of St. Eustatius, using citizen scientists as recorders. In 2015, an excellent start was made by the St. Eustatius Marine Biodiversity Expedition 2015. During this expedition, the ANEMOON Foundation, together with Naturalis Biodiversity Center (of Leiden in the Netherlands), and some local partners on St. Eustatius, surveyed the underwater life of the Marine Park. In three weeks, over 1,150 different species of plants and animals were observed.
This news article was published in BioNews 2-2017.
BioNews is produced by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Molluscs are one of the largest phyla in the animal kingdom. They make up a large part of marine faunas worldwide (Appeltans et al. 2012), and have a considerable presence on land and in freshwater. During the Statia Marine Expedition 2015, we hoped to contribute significantly to expanding the understanding of the molluscan fauna of the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius. The main goal of the present research was to produce an inventory of the fauna, with the primary emphasis being marine molluscs. Another major goal of the investigation was obtaining DNA subsamples of soft tissue from live individuals of a number of marine mollusc species. This will enable subsequent molecular analysis and DNA barcoding.
The malacofauna of St. Eustatius had been investigated to some extent before the 2015 expedition. Coomans (1958) listed 40 marine gastropods and Kaas (1972) reported on eight polyplacophorans based on material collected by Wagenaar Hummelinck in 1949 (Wagenaar Hummelinck 1977). Hewitt (2015) recorded 183 marine mollusc species based on her own collections and those of others from 2000 to 2011. In addition, 15 species of terrestrial gastropods were reported by Vernhout (1914), Haas (1960, 1962), Hovestadt (1980), and Van der Valk (1987).
In the 2015 survey, we attempted to find as many mollusc species as possible from each field station. The voucher material (marine and non-marine) consists of dry specimens (shells) and alcohol- preserved material. This material will be deposited in the reference collection of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.
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