Biodiversity of aplacophoran mollusks in Norway (Mollusca: Solenogastres and Caudofoveata)
The Norwegian shelf is a biodiversity hotspot for aplacophoran mollusks. In this project we want to investigate the species diversity and distribution of these unusual but fascinating worm-shaped animals in Norwegian waters. Several species new to science will be described and genetic barcodes will be obtained
The important role of mollusks in benthic fauna communities of marine environments is generally accepted, but research has largely been focused on clams, mussels, snails, and cephalopods. A simple fact impedes an adequate appreciation of the Solenogastres and Caudofoveata in biodiversity studies, even though they are regularly encountered: the lack of comprehensive taxonomic literature and identification keys. In the proposed project we investigate the species diversity and distribution of aplacophoran mollusks in Norwegian waters by integrating the copious, yet largely unidentified, material available in museums and other collections with the rather disperse published data and material obtained during the project period. Based on published records, there are 27 species of Solenogastres and 10 species of Caudofoveata in the geographic area, but our own observations show that the species diversity is much higher. The project will result in a monograph of Norwegian Solenogastres and an updated survey of Norwegian Caudofoveata, providing biogeographical data, identification keys, short descriptions, and high-quality photos. In addition, several species new to science will be described and genetic barcodes will be obtained. A reference collection of Norwegian aplacophoran mollusks will be deposited at the University Museum of Bergen and the knowledge gained during the project will be transferred to a broader audience by a transportable exhibition on “mollusks without shells”.
The project is funded by The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (Artsdatabanken)
Project leader: Christiane Todt, Universitetsmuseet i Bergen - De naturhistoriske samlinger
Project period: Januar 2012 – desember 2014