Biogeography and Biodiversity of Western Atlantic Mollusks

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ISBN 9781466579798
Cat# K16864



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  • Presents maps of all the marine molluscan provinces and subprovinces of the tropical western Atlantic
  • Provides quantitative analyses of key gastropod index groups, showing percentages of endemism for each faunal province and subprovince
  • Discusses endemic species radiations from each subprovincial area, emphasizing examples of island endemism
  • Supplies complete taxonomic data banks for ten tropical western Atlantic gastropod families and subfamilies
  • Includes more than 100 color plates of more than 400 key gastropod index species from each province and subprovince
  • Contains color photos of seldom-visited localities, such as the Abrolhos Islands of Brazil, the desert coast of the Gulf of Venezuela, and the jungle coastline of Amapa, Brazil


Shallow water marine molluscan faunas are distributed in a pattern of distinct, geographically definable areas. This makes mollusks ideal for studying the distribution of organisms in the marine environment and the processes and patterns that control their evolution. Biogeography and Biodiversity of Western Atlantic Mollusks is the first book to use quantitative methodologies to define marine molluscan biogeographical patterns. It traces the historical development of these patterns for the subtropical and tropical western Atlantic. The book discusses the multistage process of evolving new taxa caused by eustatic fluctuations, ecological stress, and evolutionary selection.

Drawing on his decades of intensive field work, the author defines three western Atlantic molluscan provinces and 15 subprovinces based on his Provincial Combined Index, a modern refinement of Valentine’s 50% rule. The faunal provinces—Carolinian, Caribbean, and Brazilian—are discussed in detail. The text defines the physical aspects of the provinces using quantitative data, with water temperature as the primary parameter. It discusses the details of the 15 subprovinces—geographically definable faunal subdivisions—as well as provinciatones, transition zones of provincial overlap.

The author’s algorithms demonstrate that the bulk of the molluscan biodiversity is concentrated in 40 separate centers of speciation, ranging from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, south to Argentina. Many of these evolutionary hotspots reside on remote archipelagos and offshore banks as well as within areas of provincial overlap. The text describes some of the more exotic and poorly known areas and presents maps and color photographs of characteristic habitats, index species, and live animals, including over 400 species of rare and seldom seen shells.

Table of Contents

Introduction: American Molluscan Faunas in Time and Space

The Molluscan Provincial Concept in the Tropical Western Atlantic

History of Molluscan Biogeographic Research in the Tropical Western Atlantic
Definition of the Molluscan Faunal Province
Definition of the Molluscan Faunal Subprovince
Geographical Heterochrony
Submergence and Endemic Bathyal Faunas
Western Atlantic Paleoprovinces and Paraprovincialism

Provinces of the Tropical Western Atlantic
The Carolinian Province
Faunal Analysis of Carolinian Mollusks
The Caribbean Province
Faunal Analysis of Caribbean Mollusks
The Brazilian Province
Faunal Analysis of Brazilian Mollusks
Western Atlantic Amphiprovincial Mollusks

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Georgian Subprovince
The Carolinas and Georgia Coastal Lagoons
The Carolinas and Georgia Offshore Scallop Beds
The Carolinas and Georgia Offshore Coral Bioherms
Georgian Deep-Water Areas
Palm Beach Provinciatone

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Subprovinces of the Florida Peninsula
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Floridian Subprovince
The Florida Bay Ecosystems
The Florida Keys Reef Tracts
Deep-Water Areas off the Florida Keys
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Suwannean Subprovince

Southern and Western Subprovinces of the Carolinian Province
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Texan Subprovince
The Texan Coastal Lagoons
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Yucatanean Subprovince
The Yucatanean Coastal Lagoons
Endemism on the Offshore Yucatan Banks and Deep-Water Areas

Northern Subprovinces of the Caribbean Province
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Bermudan Subprovince
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Bahamian Subprovince
Endemism on the Bahama Banks
Endemism in Bahamian Deep-Water Areas
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Antillean Subprovince
The Belizean Reefs and Eastern Yucatan Islands
Endemism in the Greater Antilles

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Nicaraguan Subprovince
Coastal Central America
Endemism on the Bay Islands of Honduras
Honduran and Nicaraguan Offshore Banks
The San Blas Archipelago

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Venezuelan Subprovince
The Golfo de Morrosquillo and Colombian Coast
Endemism along the Goajira Peninsula
The Golfo de Venezuela
The Venezuelan Deep-Water Areas

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Grenadian and Surinamian Subprovinces
The Lesser Antilles and Grenadines
Endemism on the Dutch ABC Islands and Los Roques Atoll
Endemism on Barbados
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Surinamian Subprovince
The Amazonian Faunal Barrier

Northern Subprovinces of the Brazilian Province
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Cearaian Subprovince
The Atol das Rocas and Fernando de Noronha Island
Molluscan Biodiversity in the Bahian Subprovince
The Abrolhos Archipelago and Reef Complexes
Endemism on Trindade Island

Molluscan Biodiversity in the Paulinian Subprovince
Endemism in the Cabo Frio Region
Endemism in the South Brazilian Bight
The Uruguayan Provinciatone

Appendix 1: Provincial Index Taxa

Appendix 2: Additions to Western Atlantic Molluscan Biodiversity

Author Bio(s)

Edward J. Petuch, Ph.D., is a professor of geology in the Department of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he teaches courses on oceanography, paleontology, and physical geology. Petuch has collected fossil and living mollusks in Australia, Papua-New Guinea, the Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Japan, the Mediterranean coast of Europe, the Bahamas, Mexico, Belize, Brazil, and Uruguay. This research has led to the publication of more than 100 papers. His 14 previous books are well-known research texts within the malacological and paleontological communities.

Editorial Reviews

"Professor Petuch draws upon an extraordinary wealth of personal experience and many decades of field work studying both recent and fossil mollusks throughout the western Atlantic, and has produced a prolific body of publications on these faunas. … [He] is to be commended for clearly and succinctly defining a useful tool for quantifying faunal distinctions among geographic regions. This methodology can also be used to produce a series of testable hypotheses that will serve both as a foundation and as a point of departure for additional research into the effects of geography and ecology on the evolution and diversification of faunas."
—From the Foreword by M. G. Harasewych, Ph.D., National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution