Marine bivalve biodiversity in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys, an island archipelago off southern Florida, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, was studied from ten years of original collections as well as from a critical review of museum specimens and literature data. A database of more than 12,000 records representing 389 species (half of which were ranked as abundant or common) was assembled and analyzed, resulting in a 139% increase of the known bivalve fauna of this region compared to the most recent prior (1995) checklist. Of the 389 species, 42% have not been positively recorded as live-collected, and 12.5% are represented only as singletons or doubletons. Using multivariate non-metric statistics and a priori geographic groupings along the island chain (Upper, Middle, Lower Keys; Dry Tortugas) and across the island chain (Florida Bay, shallow Atlantic waters [< 35m], deeper Atlantic waters [35-300 m]), the data showed distinct differences in benthic community structure across several spatial gradients. A pronounced northeast-to-southwest gradient was found on the Florida Bay-side of the island chain, although none was evident along the oceanside in either shallow or deep depth zones. Although they shared dominant species, the shallow-water communities of bayside and oceanside differed significantly in the percentage distributions of co-occurring species. In contrast, the deeper oceanside community differed substantially from both shallow-water groups in supporting a different set of species. A comparison of the bivalve fauna of the Keys with other well-documented faunas of the western Atlantic indicated that the Florida Keys fauna groups more closely to the Gulf of Mexico and Cuba than to eastern peninsular Florida, Yucatan, or the Bahamas. The impact of the heterogeneous nature of the dataset (live-specimen, dead-shell; and original collections, museum, and literature) is revealed by comparison to analyses based on live-only data: the latter results in less spatial resolution but the same general patterns. In a comparison of data sources (original collections, museum records, gray literature and traditional literature), original collections were least effective (51%) in capturing the total species list despite representing approximately half of the total records. Literature was most successful (90%) in capturing the list but only when gray literature was included. Rapid assessment methods contrasted against the long-term results showed effectiveness when based on a range of sample types and habitats.
Seashells of Southern Florida: Living Marine Mollusks of the Florida Keys and Adjacent Regions – Bivalves (Princeton University Press, 2008) is a book project that originated in the Florida Keys diversity study. The first in a series of three volumes on the molluscan fauna of the Keys and adjacent regions, Seashells of Southern Florida - Bivalves provides a comprehensive treatment of these bivalves, and also serves as a comparative anatomical guide to bivalve diversity worldwide. More than three hundred species of bivalves, including clams, scallops, oysters, mussels, shipworms, jewel boxes, tellins, and many lesser-known groups. For each family an exemplar species is selected for illustration of its shell and anatomical features in detail. Habitat and other relevant information are provided, and each species account is accompanied by high-resolution shell photographs of other family members. Text and images combine to present species- to family-level characteristics in a complete way never before seen. The book includes 1,500 color photographs of shells, underwater habitats, and bivalves in situ, as well as original anatomical and hinge drawings, scanning electron micrographs, and unique transparent-shell illustrations with major organ systems color-coded and clearly shown. Seashells of Southern Florida – Bivalves is the most complete guide to subtropical bivalves available. It is an essential tool for students and teachers of molluscan diversity and systematics, and an indispensable identification guide for collectors, scuba divers, naturalists, environmental consultants, and natural-resource managers.
In addition to these faunal inventory analyses, the book, and several other papers, the Florida Keys Diversity Project spawned a number of systematic revisions (Lima, Ctenoides, Varicorbula) and one of the two major PEET-supported field workshops.
Publications: Bieler, R., and P. M. Mikkelsen. Feb. 2003 . The Cruises of the Eolis – John B. Henderson’s mollusk collections off the Florida Keys, 1910-1916. American Malacological Bulletin, 17(1/2): 125-140. Supplemental tables (day-by-day cruise summaries; revised SI tag numbers) are available online.
Bieler, R., and P. M. Mikkelsen, eds. 2004. Bivalve Studies in the Florida Keys: Proceedings of the International Marine Bivalve Workshop, Long Key, Florida, July 2002. Malacologia, 46(2): 241-677.
Bieler, R., and P. M. Mikkelsen. 2004. Marine bivalves of the Florida Keys: a qualitative faunal analysis based on original collections, museum holdings and literature data. Malacologia, 46(2): 503-544, Proceedings of the International Marine Bivalve Workshop 2002.
Bieler, R., P. M. Mikkelsen, T. Lee, and D. Ó Foighil. 2004. Discovery of the Indo-Pacific oyster Hyotissa hyotis (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Florida Keys (Bivalvia: Gryphaeidae). Molluscan Research, 24(3): 149-159. Data posted on the USGS NAS (Nonindigenous Aquatic Species) web site, 09 June 2005.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2000. Marine bivalves of the Florida Keys: discovered biodiversity. In: The Evolutionary Biology of the Bivalvia [Proceedings of “Biology & Evolution of the Bivalvia,” an international symposium organized by the Malacological Society of London, 14-17 September 1999, Cambridge, UK], E. M. Harper, J. D. Taylor, and J. A. Crame, eds. Geological Society, London, Special Publication 177: 367-387.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2001. Varicorbula (Bivalvia: Corbulidae) of the western Atlantic: taxonomy, anatomy, life habits, and distribution. The Veliger, 44(3): 271-293.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2003. Systematic revision of the western Atlantic file clams, Lima and Ctenoides (Bivalvia: Limoida: Limidae). Invertebrate Systematics, 17(5): 667-710, cover. Supplementary publication (station data, additional synonymy, distribution records, additional references) is available online (.pdf).
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2004. International Marine Bivalve Workshop 2002: introduction and summary. Malacologia, 46(2): 241-248, Proceedings of the International Marine Bivalve Workshop 2002.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2004. Critical catalog and annotated bibliography of marine bivalve records for the Florida Keys. Malacologia, 46(2): 545-623, Proceedings of the International Marine Bivalve Workshop 2002.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2008. Seashells of Southern Florida: Living Marine Mollusks of the Florida Keys and Adjacent Regions. Bivalves. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 503 pp.
Presentations: Bieler, R., and P. M. Mikkelsen. 2003. Under-estimated diversity close to home: a ten-year survey of the Florida Keys molluscan fauna. American Malacological Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 27 June 2003, p. 6.
Bieler, R., and P. M. Mikkelsen. 2006. Molluscan diversity of the Florida Keys: a faunal project based on original collections, museum holdings and literature data (poster). International Congress on Bivalve Development, Evolution and Ecology, Fifth International Congress of the European Malacological Societies, Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Spain, 26 July 2006, p. 19.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2004. Effective inventory of cryptic marine invertebrates: RAP versus TAP. Invited lecture, Spring Symposium: Expanding the Ark: The Emerging Science and Practice of Invertebrate Conservation, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH, 25 March 2004.
Mikkelsen, P. M., and R. Bieler. 2004. Marine bivalves of the Florida Keys: a qualitative faunal analysis based on original collections, museum holdings, and literature data. Special Session – Biodiversity of Marine Mollusks (organized by G. Paulay and C. P. Meyer), American Malacological Society, Sanibel Island, Florida, 1 August 2004, p. 58.