Biogeography and Biodiversity of Western Atlantic Mollusks: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Biogeography and Biodiversity of Western Atlantic Mollusks

1st Edition

By Edward J. Petuch

CRC Press

252 pages | 113 Color Illus.

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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.


"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

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

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Floridian Subprovince

The Florida Bay Ecosystems

The Florida Keys Reef Tracts

Deep-Water Areas off the Florida Keys

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Suwannean Subprovince

Southern and Western Subprovinces of the Carolinian Province

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Texan Subprovince

The Texan Coastal Lagoons

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Yucatanean Subprovince

The Yucatanean Coastal Lagoons

Endemism on the Offshore Yucatan Banks and Deep-Water Areas

Northern Subprovinces of the Caribbean Province

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Bermudan Subprovince

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Bahamian Subprovince

Endemism on the Bahama Banks

Endemism in Bahamian Deep-Water Areas

MolluscanBiodiversity 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

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Surinamian Subprovince

The Amazonian Faunal Barrier

Northern Subprovinces of the Brazilian Province

MolluscanBiodiversity in the Cearaian Subprovince

The Atol das Rocas and Fernando de Noronha Island

MolluscanBiodiversity 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


About the Author

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.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Marine Biology