New memoirs on biodiversity on primnoid corals in New Zealand

A group of gorgonian octocorals that provide shelter for fish and invertebrates in the deep sea is the subject of NIWA’s latest biodiversity memoir.

Our biodiversity memoirs, published since the 1950s, list and describe all known species within a group of animals that inhabit New Zealand waters, accompanied by beautiful and detailed photos.

The subjects of our latest memoir are shaped like trees, fans, or bottle brushes, and are vulnerable to the effects of fishing and seabed degradation. Hence, knowledge of the biodiversity of this group is crucial to improve their management.

In the waters of New Zealand, the primnoid fauna is diverse and widespread and protected by law.

This is the third and final biodiversity memoir on primnoid octocorals in the New Zealand region and was written by Dr. Stephen Cairns of the Smithsonian Institute and focuses on the genus Thouarella Gray.

A community of lemon yellow, orange brown and beige morphs of the primnoid octocoral Thouarella variabilis var.Typical Wright & Studer, 1889, captured by NIWA’s deep-drawn imaging system at a depth of 862 m on Seamount 7, Macquarie Ridge.

Two other primnoid species are also reported as new records for the New Zealand region: Metafannyella rigida sp. nov., and Dasystenella austasensis (Zapata-Guardiola & López-González, 2010). This increases the number of primnoid coral species primarily known from New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone to 67, including 63 named and four unnamed species, the most species-rich family of New Zealand octo corals.

The NIWA Biodiversity Memoir series describes the taxonomy of New Zealand marine life, mainly for invertebrates such as sponges, corals, sea worms, molluscs, crustaceans and starfish. They underline the uniqueness, strangeness and diversity of our waters and at the same time form the basis for marine biological and ecological research.

The NIWA Biodiversity Memoir series is available for free download as PDF files.

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