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Eurythenes atacamensis sp. nov. (Crustacea: Amphipoda) exhibits ontogenetic vertical stratification across abyssal and hadal depths in the Atacama Trench, eastern South Pacific Ocean

Lookup NU author(s): Johanna Weston, Dr Thom Linley, Dr William ReidORCiD, Dr Alan Jamieson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Eurythenes S.I. Smith in Scudder, 1882 (Crustacea: Amphipoda) are prevalent scavengers of the benthopelagic community from bathyal to hadal depths. While a well-studied genus, molecular systematic studies have uncovered cryptic speciation and multiple undescribed lineages. Here, we apply an integrative taxonomic approach and describe the tenth species, Eurythenes atacamensis sp. nov., based on specimens from the 2018 Atacamex and RV Sonne SO261 Expeditions to the southern sector of the Peru-Chile Trench, the Atacama Trench (24–21°S). Eurythenes atacamensis sp. nov. is a large species, max. observed length 83.2 mm, possesses diagnostic features, including a short gnathopod 1 palm and a chelate gnathopod 2 palm, and a distinct genetic lineage based on a 16S rRNA and COI phylogeny. This species is a dominant bait-attending fauna with an extensive bathymetric range, spanning from 4974 to 8081 m. The RV Sonne SO261 specimens were recovered along a 10-station transect from abyssal to hadal depths and further examined for demographic and bathymetric-related patterns. Ontogenetic vertical stratification was evident across the trench axis, with only juveniles present at abyssal depths (4974–6025 m). Total length-depth analysis revealed that the size of females was unrelated to depth, whereas juveniles followed a sigmoidal relationship with a step-up in size at depths >7200 m. Thus, these bathymetric trends suggest that juveniles and females employ differing ecological strategies in subduction trench environments. This study highlights that even dominant and ecologically important species are still being discovered within the abyssal and hadal environments. Continued systematic expeditions will lead to an improved understanding of the eco-evolutionary drivers of speciation in the world’s largest ecosystem.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Weston JNJ, Espinosa-Leal L, Wainwright JA, Stewart ECD, Gonzalez CE, Linley TD, Reid WDK, Hidalgo P, Oliva ME, Ulloda O, Wenzhofer F, Glud RN, Escribano R, Jamieson AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Biodiversity

Year: 2021

Volume: 51

Online publication date: 15/05/2021

Acceptance date: 11/03/2021

Date deposited: 18/05/2021

ISSN (print): 1867-1616

ISSN (electronic): 1867-1624

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s12526-021-01182-z


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