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Biodiversity and Biogeography of benthonic animals from the deep-sea: a study of the Brazilian Caudofoveata (Mollusca, Aplacophora)

Grant number: 18/06347-6
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: October 01, 2018 - September 30, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Flávio Dias Passos
Grantee:Flávio Dias Passos
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Alexandre Dias Pimenta ; Carmen Regina Parisotto Guimaraes


The marine molluscs constitute an important part of the Brazilian biodiversity, which is more well-known from its shallow water species. Gastropods, bivalves and cephalopods are the largest and better investigated groups, while other smaller ones which are more restricted to greater depths are sometimes completely neglected. This is the case of the Aplacophora, which is diverse in the deep-sea, being also very abundant in some places, but rarely studied because its species are not easily collected; the techniques for their studies are not so usual too. These molluscs have a characteristic cylindrical, elongated body, covered by spicules, and are generally very small animals. The interests on these animals are growing up in recent years for their phylogenetic importance. In the more recent literature they have been considered as a monophyletic group, composed by two taxa, the Caudofoveata and the Solenogastres, externally distinguished, basically, by the presence of a pedal groove only occurring in the latter ones. For the Atlantic Ocean, records of aplacophoran species are more common from the northern hemisphere, the knowledge regarding those from the South America being more restricted. Specially in Brazilian waters, they were never studied in detail, but more recently they have been collected in places where there are intense efforts for oil and gas exploitation, in the southeast and in the northeast coasts. Aiming to investigate the patterns of distribution of these animals in the Atlantic Ocean, collections containing thousands of specimens of Brazilian Caudofoveata will be studied, seeking to identify them to the species level, to record the new occurrences and to describe the ones which are new. This study is, in fact, currently in practice, through observations made by light and scanning electron microscopies; special methods were developed in UNICAMP, resulting in great data, including in published papers. In this Project, the Brazilian species will be investigated in a larger context, as a part of reviews on all the Atlantic Ocean species of the genera Falcidens and Chaetoderma (Chaetodermatidae), and of the families Limifossoridae and Prochaetodermatidae, these groups being the better represented ones in the collections from Brazil. Through comparisons among these different species and modelling their geographical distribution, the occurrence of sister-species will be investigated in the deep Atlantic, also revealing distinct distribution patterns as, for example, bipolar, amphi-Atlantic, and endemic or widely distributed species (among others). This is a pioneer Project for the Brazilian fauna, to be made together with national and foreign researchers, involving new students that will be specialized on the taxonomy of molluscs, and specially on those from the deep-sea; one PhD student is already involved in these studies, with a FAPESP fellowship (Proc. 2017/01081-5). (AU)

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