Scientia Marina, Vol 69, No S2 (2005)

Distributional patterns of shallow-water polychaetes in the Magellan region: a zoogeographical and ecological synopsis

Américo Montiel San Martín
Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar and Meeresforschung - Centro de Estudio del Cuaternario de Fuego – Patagonia y Antártica Chilena (CEQUA), Chile

Dieter Gerdes
Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar and Meeresforschung, Germany

Wolf E. Arntz
Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar and Meeresforschung, Germany


The zoogeography of polychaete annelids was described for the Magellan region. This work considered information available from 19 expeditions carried out in the last 124 years of polychaete taxonomic research around the southernmost tip of the South American continental shelf. The polychaete fauna of the Magellan region comprised a total of 431 species belonging to 108 genera and 41 families. MDS and ANOSIM analyses showed the Magellan region to be divided into two subregions, one on the Pacific side of the tip of South America and one on the Atlantic side. These subregions showed a low percentage of “endemic species” (< 10%) whereas > 70% of the species recorded for the whole Magellan region showed a wide distribution range, and there were especially high affinities with Antarctic and Subantarctic areas. We suggest that the opening of the Straits of Magellan created a new pathway for enhanced exchange of faunal elements between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Transport of larvae via easterly directed currents of the West Wind Drift plays an important role in current distribution patterns of polychaete fauna around the tip of South America.


polychaete zoogeography; Antarctic affinities; species composition; Magellan region

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Copyright (c) 2005 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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