Global Diversity of Brittle Stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea)
Abstract: This review presents a comprehensive over- view of the current status regarding the global diversity of the echinoderm class Ophiuroidea, focussing on taxono- my and distribution patterns, with brief introduction to their anatomy, biology, phylogeny, and palaeontological history. A glossary of terms is provided. Species names and taxonomic decisions have been extracted from the literature and compiled in The World Ophiuroidea Database, part of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). Ophiuroidea, with 2064 known species, are the largest class of Echinodermata. A table presents 16 families with numbers of genera and species. The largest are Amphiuridae (467), Ophiuridae (344 species) and Ophiacanthidae (319 species). A biogeographic analysis for all world oceans and all accepted species was performed, based on published distribution records. Approximately similar numbers of species were recorded from the shelf (n=1313) and bathyal depth strata (1297). The Indo-Pacific region had the highest species richness overall (825 species) and at all depths. Adjacent regions were also relatively species rich, including the North Pacific (398), South Pacific (355) and Indian (316) due to the presence of many Indo-Pacific species that partially extended into these regions. A secondary region of enhanced species richness was found in the West Atlantic (335). Regions of relatively low species richness include the Arctic (73 species), East Atlantic (118), South America (124) and Antarctic (126).