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book "Polychaeta of the Arctic Ocean"

I. A. Jirkov jirkov at IJirkov.home.bio.msu.ru
Tue May 21 23:17:15 EST 2002

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new polychaete book.

Citation: Jirkov I. A. 2001. Polychaeta of the Arctic Ocean, Moscow, Yanus-K
Press, 632 pp. See http://rav.sio.rssi.ru/~lena/book/book.htm for additional

In completing this book, I want to thank the colleagues who have contributed 
to the various chapters included in this book (see the list of contributing 
authors). This book would never have happened without financial support 
from Akvaplan-Niva (Norway) and the Russian Foundation for Basic 

This monograph is dedicated to taxonomy and distribution of polychaetes of 
the Arctic Ocean. Taxonomy of polychaete in general is notoriously confused 
and arctic polychaetes are not an exception. Although the first arctic 
polychaetes were described by Linne (1758), arctic polychaete fauna is still 
insufficiently known. Most original descriptions of earlier species are 
absolutely unsatisfactory, yet many of them are type species of genera. Later 
the same species names were also recorded from all over the world and the 
original cursory descriptions were extended according to the new material. 
As a result, species and genera became even less defined, often with being 
large species complexes. A long list of synonyms and incorrect 
identifications led to the widespread idea that polychaetes are poor 
biogeographic indicators and cannot be used in biogeographic studies. Thus, 
a detailed st graph is to put together up-to-date information on taxonomy and 
distribution of polychaetes within the Arctic Ocean.  

The initiation of this project was originally stimulated by a surprising lack of a 
comprehensive account of the Arctic fauna, including polychaetes. Previous 
the most complete taxonomic guide to the arctic benthos was published in 
mid 20th century in Russian (Zatsepin, 1948). It included neither fauna of the 
Norwegian and Greenland seas, penetrating into the Arctic from the the 
Atlantic, nor deep-water fauna that had been insufficiently known at that time. 
It also became outdated in half of the century after its publication. A book by 
Berkeleys (1952) on the fauna of Canadian Arctic is too cursory and limited 
in geographic coverage. None of monographic treatments of individual 
polychaete taxa (Streltsov, 1973; Uschakov, 1972, 1982; Khlebovich, 1996; 
Arwidsson, 1906; Fauchald, 1963, 1974, 1992; Holthe, 1986a; George, 
Hartmann-Schroeder, 1985; Gidholm, 1966; Muir, Chambers, 1998; Pax rs) 
treat all families, the studied areas only partly overlap, and most of these 
papers are outdated to some degree. The most recent taxonomic guide to 
arctic polychaetes (Jirkov 1989) included only selected polychaete families. 
Therefore, the current book is unprecedented in scope and coverage.  

The book consists of two parts. The general part describes external 
polychaete morphology as well as methods of material collection, 
preservation and storage. It also contains detailed analysis of biogeographic 
distribution of polychaetes within the Arctic basin. The taxonomic part is 
based on extensive material deposited in numerous taxonomic collections in 
Russia and around the world (see the list of studied collections). The 
sampling area covers most of the Arctic Ocean, from the Faeroe Islands to 
the Bering Straight, from the upper shelf to abyssal depths. In total, more 
than 10 000 samples and over 200 000 specimens have been studied. A 
total of 458 species descriptions, (including 265 based on newly studied 
material) species are presented in the guide of which nine are descriptions of 
the species new to science in the Chaetopteridae (1); Flabelligeridae (2); 
Nephtyidae (1); S s easy to use because of its user-friendly pictorial 
taxonomic keys to the families, genera and species. Detailed species 
descriptions are abundantly illustrated by 566 figures (more than half of them 
are original illustrations not published anywhere else before), and 
accompanied by 211 original distribution maps.  

I believe that the book will be a valuable resource to polychaete researchers 
and benthic biologists working on the Arctic fauna and the fauna of adjacent 
regions. If you would like to buy a copy, please write to Lena Kupriyanova 
<Lena.Kupriyanova at flinders.edu.au> Department of Biological Sciences, 
Flinders University of South Australia, G.P.O. Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001 
Australia. Please include a check drawn from an US bank or an international 
money order for US$35.00 if you want a book plus $5 postage international 
(via surface) or US$15.00 if you prefer a CD (PDF file of the book  plus a 
bonus of pdf files of all my publications in Russian with their English 
translations) plus $2 postage international (via air)  

Despite the scope and detail level of the edition, the project is not yet 
completed. Although we tried to include all polychaete families in the guide, 
the coverage of the families is not uniform. This situation reflect the state of 
taxonomy of various families. Families Ampharetidae, Aphroditidae, 
Eunicidae, Flabelligeridae, Glyceridae, Goniadidae, Nephtyidae, Nereidae, 
Onuphidae, Pectinariidae, Phyllodocidae, Sabellariidae, Scalibregmidae, 
Serpulidae, Spionidae, Spirorbidae and Terebellidae are relatively well 
studied and therefore, the book contains the most reliable information on 
these families. In contrast, families such as Capitellidae, Cirratulidae, 
Hesionidae, Magelonidae, Polynoidae, Syllidae, remain unstudied. Although 
there is a large number of publications on these families, the original 
collections were either studied partially or the results of our study only 
showed In case of Polynoidae, Sigalionidae, Pholoidae, Lumbrineridae, 
Sabellidae, and some others very preliminary overviews were compiled from 
the literature. For Capitellidae, Cirratulidae, Hesionidae, Magelonidae, 
Syllidae, and some others only family diagnoses are provided. Remaining 
families (Opheliidae and Sabellidae) hold intermediate positions: taxonomic 
keys are given and unresolved taxonomic problems are pointed out.  

Another obvious downside is that the book is in Russian, although this 
problem is partly alleviated by numerous illustrations and distribution maps. 
We recognize that this limits the potential users of the book and are currently 
looking for a source of funding to translate the existing book into English. Also 
we would like to extend the book by studying arctic material deposited in 
North American museums in order to balance the geographic coverage that 
is currently biased towards Euro-Asian sector of the Arctic Ocean. Another 
way to improve the book is to extend the coverage of individual families. The 
result of such a project would be a publication of the most comprehensive up-
to-date source of information on arctic polychaetes. We appreciate any 
suggestions and hints about possible source of funding for such a project 
and are open to collaboration with the interested colleagues.  

Wormly Igor Jirkov

Igor A. Jirkov, Dr. Sc.
Senior Scientific Researcher
Department of Hydrobiology,
Biology  Faculty
Moscow State University, Moscow 119899 RUSSIA
mailto:jirkov at ijirkov.home.bio.msu.ru

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