Alternate Title

First Record and Habitat Notes for the Genus Lightiella (Crustacea, Cephalocarida, Hutchinsoniellidae) from the British Virgin Islands

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The crustacean class Cephalocarida, as currently understood, is comprised of five genera and ten species (Hessler and Elofsson 1996, Hessler and Wakabara 2000). Although in some instances numerous specimens have been collected in a single locale (e.g., the nearly 120 specimens of Lightiella incisa Gooding, 1963 from Puerto Rico studied by Sanders and Hessler (1964), and the numerous specimens of Hutchinsoniella macracantha Sanders, 1955 now known from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, see Hessler and Sanders 1973:193), most reports are based on very few specimens. For example, the original description of the genus Hutchinsoniella Sanders, 1955 was based on only eight specimens from Long Island Sound, New York (Sanders 1955); the genus Sandersiella was originally described by Shiino (1965) on the basis of only one specimen from Japan; the genus Chiltoniella Knox and Fenwick, 1977 was based on two specimens from New Zealand (Knox and Fenwick 1977), and the genus Lightiella Jones, 1961 was based on seven specimens from San Francisco Bay (Jones 1961). Lightiella moniotae was described for a single individual from New Caledonia (Cals and Delamare-Deboutteville 1970); Sandersiella calmani for two specimens from Peru (Hessler and Sanders 1973); and Sandersiella bathyalis for two specimens from the deep ocean off southwest Africa (Hessler and Sanders 1973). The single eastern Caribbean record (Barbados) of a cephalocarid also was based on two specimens (Gooding 1963), although Gooding also discussed two specimens from Puerto Rico in that account.

Cephalocarids are of such interest morphologically and phylogenetically, and are found so infrequently, that their presence anywhere is noteworthy. As part of an ongoing survey of the cryptic marine invertebrates of certain Caribbean islands, we obtained a single specimen of a cephalocarid from Guana Island, British Virgin Islands, that matches most closely the description by Gooding (1963) of L. incisa. The find is of interest not only because it is the first record for the far eastern Caribbean other than Gooding’s (1963) two type specimens from Barbados, but also because of the unusual habitat in which it was found.

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