Review of the THALASSINIDEA (CRUSTACEA: DECAPODA) from Chile and Argentina
Thalassinid decapods have received increasing attention in marine ecology due to their deep-burrowing activity and their ecological importance in benthic communities, i.e. as bioturbators in muddy environments (Pemberton et al. 1976, Stamhuis et al. 1996, Coelho et al. 2000). Due to the increasing world-wide interest in biodiversity, the number of new descriptions of thalassinid species increased significantly during the last few decades (Dworschak 2000). Biodiversity studies performed in the western Atlantic Ocean showed this region to be one of those with highest thalassinid diversity worldwide (Dworschak 2000, Williams 1993). However, marine biologists still paid little attention to the thalassinids from the southwestern Atlantic waters off Argentina and the Chilean Pacific coast (Fig. 1). Only eight thalassinid species are so far known to occur along the Chilean and Argentine coasts (Fig. 2). Recent descriptions of new species from these waters (Guzman & Thatje 2003) and especially from the deeper sublittoral (Thatje 2000, Thatje & Gerdes 2000) indicate that the total species richness of the Thalassinidea from Chile and Argentina still remains to be discovered. The present work is an attempt tosummarize the extant knowledge on the Thalassinidea from both Chilean and Argentine waters.