Taxonomy and biodiversity of the Ophiuroidea (brittle stars) of South Africa
South Africa has a strong history of marine taxonomic excellence but echinoderm taxonomy is one that is in danger of ceasing to exist as a result of the loss of expertise without replacement. Several recent collecting expeditions (by Belgian and South African scientists) resulted in the addition of 51 species of echinoderms to the region while Samyn (pers. comm.) confirms that the material deposited in the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) holds many new records for South Africa. This material has also resulted in the preparation of a paper on the genus Ophiocoma and subsequent collections in South Africa have resulted in the discovery of a species of brittle star living within a jellyfish that has not been documented in the region before. Other potential publications from the RMCA collection include an account of the Ophiuroidea of Sodwana bay which hosts the southernmost coral communities on the east coast of Africa.
The aim of the project is to revise the taxonomy, distribution and diversity of the Ophiuroidea of South Africa by: