The benthic invertebrate fauna of subantarctic Marion and Prince Edward Islands

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

There have been several expeditions to Marion and Prince Edward Islands (MPE) which have sampled the marine fauna and flora, including those of the British ships Challenger (1873-1876) and Discovery (1935), and subsequent surveys by the French ship Marion-Dufresne (Arnaud and Hureae, 1979). South African research began with land-based surveys that concentrated on the intertidal and shallow-water benthos and included work by Fuller (1967), Van Zinderen Bakker et al 1971 ), De Villiers (1976) and Blankley & Grindley (1985). More recently this research was extended offshore by the University of Cape Town, with dredging being undertaken from the SA Agulhas over the period 1984-1989 (GM Branch, Attwood, Gianakouras and ML Branch, 1993) and a quantitative SCUBA survey at depths of 5, 10 and 15m at Bullards Bay, Transvaal Cove and Trypot Point (Beckley and Branch, 1992). The identification of benthic species posed a major problem during each of the recent surveys, despite the fact that the material from earlier expeditions has been referred to international taxonomic authorities. Reference specimens are not available or are housed in European collections. The number of species from the area has also increased considerably. Previous work in the subantarctic has been undertaken by scientists from a large number of countries and over a protracted period of time. Isolated detailed monographs reviewing particular groups have appeared, but these remain largely inaccessible to the more generalist worker. Furthermore many are now out-of-date in terms of the nomenclature employed. This situation prompted the compilation of the present series of identification guides, which are intended to synthesise information on the benthic invertebrate fauna of Marion and Prince Edward Islands and to present it in a manner that will allow relatively easy identification by the non-specialist.

Includes bibliographical references.