PDF Volume 19: Field guide to the brittle and basket stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) of South Africa

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Upload date 12 Sep 2019
Contributor Yves Samyn
Geographical coverage South Africa
Keywords Ophiuroidea; Echinodermata
Release date 17/02/2020
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Brittle and basket stars (ophiuroids) are one of five extant classes of the phylum
Echinodermata and have a fossil record dating back almost 500 million years to
the Early Ordovician. Today, they remain diverse and widespread, with over 260
described genera and 2,077 extant species globally (Stöhr et al. 2018), more than
any other class of echinoderm. Ophiuroid species are found across all marine
habitats from the intertidal shore to the abyss. In southern Africa, the ophiuroid
fauna has been studied extensively by a number of authors and is relatively wellknown.
The last published review of the southern African Ophiuroidea however was
by Clark & Courtman-Stock in 1976. It included 101 species reported from within
the boundaries of South Africa. In the 40 years since that publication the number
of species has risen to 136. This identification guide includes a taxonomic key to
all 136 species, and gives key references, distribution maps, diagnoses, scaled
photographs (where possible), and a synthesis of known ecological and depth
information for each. The guide is designed to be comprehensive, well illustrated
and easy to use for both naturalists and professional biologists. Taxonomic terms,
morphological characteristics and technical expressions are defined and described
in detail, with illustrations to clarify some aspects of the terminology. A checklist of
all species in the region is also included, and indicates which species are endemic
(33), for which we report significant range extensions (23), which have been
recorded as new to the South African fauna (28) since the previous monograph of
Clark & Courtman-Stock (1976) and which have undergone taxonomic revisions
since that time (28).