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Historical Patterns in the Description of North East Atlantic Decapoda

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Abstract An analysis of historical patterns in the description of North East Atlantic Decapoda is presented. The discovery curve of decapods as a whole indicates that the decapod fauna of the NE Atlantic is well known, with two major peaks in species description rates being identifiable: 1808–1830 and 1855–1890, the latter corresponding to the era of the major oceanographic expeditions. On a sub- to infraordinal level, three major periods can be discerned. An early period (1758 – mid 1880s) during which proportionally more Brachyura were described, followed by a shorter period (mid 1880s – 1920 during which more attention was devoted to Anomura and less speciose taxa (mainly deep water). From the 1920s onwards, species descriptions of Caridea have achieved prominence. Size, ecological traits, extent of occurrence, and taxonomic fashion are thought to be responsible for the early bias towards Brachyura, whilst the anomuran and caridean phase are more related to field work techniques (deep water dredging in the former) and improved observational techniques.

Affiliations: 1: Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW, United Kingdom (


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