Frontiers Spring 2013 Schedule (pdf)
Due to a scheduling conflict with our first speaker, the first lecture on January 11, 2013 will be given by Dr. Ed Petuch.
Mollusks of the Tropical Western Atlantic: New Perspectives on Biogeography and Biodiversity
Edward J. Petuch, Department of Geosciences, Florida Atlantic University
Mollusks are the most diverse and species-rich group of marine animals and, because of this, are among the most important indicators of marine environmental changes and oceanographic conditions. Of the world’s oceans, the tropical western Atlantic is still one of the most unstudied areas and recent field studies by FAU researchers, from North Carolina to southern Brazil, have yielded hundreds of important new species and genera. New analyses of enhanced taxonomic data banks have shown that the tropical and subtropical western Atlantic contains three distinct marine faunal provinces (the Carolinian, Caribbean, and Brazilian Provinces) and fifteen separate subprovinces, each with its own highly endemic fauna. In addition, over forty localized centers of speciation and evolution have been identified for the first time, many being restricted to isolated island groups such as the Abrolhos Archipelago, Atol das Rocas, Los Roques Atoll, and the Belizean Atolls. Of special interest, evolutionarily, are the spectacular cone shell radiations of the Bahama Banks and Bay Islands of Honduras, the volute shell radiation of the central Caribbean Banks, the “living fossil” relictual cowrie shell fauna of Colombia and the Gulf of Venezuela, and the endemic molluscan assemblages of the coastal lagoon systems of southeastern Florida and the Florida Keys. Over 250 species of rare and seldom-seen mollusks are shown, many for the first time since their original descriptions.