Antarctic Science

Life Sciences

Zoogeography of the Antarctic ascidian fauna in relation to the sub-Antarctic and South America

Carmen Primoa1 c1 and Elsa Vázqueza1

a1 Departmento Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Facultade de Ciencias do Mar, Universidade de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain


This study of the relationships between the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and South America biogeographical regions used both existing and new data. We constructed a presence/absence matrix of 237 species for 27 biogeographical divisions which included the Amsterdam-Saint Paul and Tristan da Cunha islands. Species and areas were classified using cluster analysis combined with MDS ordination. Six main groups were obtained from the species classification: 1) Amsterdam-Saint Paul, and 2) Tristan da Cunha species, 3) species from the Macquarie Province, 4) species from the sub-Antarctic Region, 5) Antarctic species and species distributed in the cold regions, 6) South American species. The biogeographical components were dominated by the endemic (although it is not as high as in other groups), Antarctic-South America and Southern Hemisphere elements. Except for Amsterdam-Saint Paul, Tristan da Cunha and Bouvet, the areas considered were grouped together with Macquarie being rather related to New Zealand regions. We speculate that the Antarctic Region may have acted as an “evolutionary incubator”, providing a centre of origin for sub-Antarctic and South American ascidians.

(Received September 05 2006)

(Accepted October 31 2006)

(Online publication June 29 2007)