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Australian tropical marine micromolluscs: An overwhelming bias

Middelfart, P., Kirkendale, L.A. and Wilson, N.G. (2016) Australian tropical marine micromolluscs: An overwhelming bias. Diversity, 8 (3). p. 17.

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Abstract

Assessing the marine biodiversity of the tropics can be overwhelming, especially for the Mollusca, one of the largest marine phyla in the sea. With a diversity that can exceed macrofaunal richness in many groups, the micro/meiofaunal component is one of most overlooked biotas in surveys due to the time-consuming nature of collecting, sorting, and identifying this assemblage. We review trends in micromollusc research highlighting the Australian perspective that reveals a dwindling taxonomic effort through time and discuss pervasive obstacles of relevance to the taxonomy of micromolluscs globally. Since a high during the 1970s, followed by a smaller peak in 2000, in 2010 we observe a low in micromolluscan collection activity in Australia not seen since the 1930s. Although challenging, considered planning at each step of the species identification pathway can reduce barriers to micromolluscan research (e.g., role of types, dedicated sampling, integration of microscopy and genetic methods). We discuss new initiatives to trial these methods in Western Australia, an understudied region with high biodiversity, and highlight why micromolluscs are worth the effort. A number of important fields that would benefit from increased focus on this group (e.g., ecological gaps) are considered. The methods and strategies for resolving systematic problems in micromolluscan taxonomy are available, only the desire and support to reverse the decline in knowledge remains to be found.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: MDPI AG
Copyright: © 2016 by the authors
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/35267
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