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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 / Abc Taxa, Field guide to the brittle and basket stars (Echinodermata: ophiuroidea) of South Africa.

Jennifer Olbers, Charles Griffiths, Timothy O'Hara, and Yves Samyn (2021)

Abc Taxa, Field guide to the brittle and basket stars (Echinodermata: ophiuroidea) of South Africa.

In: Abstract book - International Congress of Zoology (Virtual congress, 22-24 November 2021), pp. 57.

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 over 2 000 extant species globally, 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 well-known. The last published review of the southern African Ophiuroidea however was by Clark and 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, which is the nineteenth volume of the series Abc Taxa 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 and Courtman-Stock (1976) and which have undergone taxonomic revisions since that time (28). This contribution delivers a copiously illustrated overview of the volume and details how it has been diffused in South Africa and beyond.
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