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Abstract

A survey of marine bivalve biodiversity in the Florida Keys, an island archipelago off southern Florida, was compiled from original collecting, museum specimens and the literature. Assembly of over 6000 records resulted in 325 species, 47% of which can be considered common to abundant in the Keys. This represents a 100% increase over the previously known fauna, largely attributable to critical review of museum specimens. Capture of species occurrences from the literature, especially when non-traditional sources (newsletters, agency reports) are excluded, is shown to be least effective, producing only 44% of the total. Bivalve distributions within the Keys show that the fauna is tropical. One-third of the species are wide ranging along the island chain; however, a latitudinal cline in faunal similarity exists from the Upper Keys southwestwards to Dry Tortugas. The fauna of Florida Bay is the most divergent within the study region and also compared to other, ecologically complex, western Atlantic tropical–subtropical regions. Limited historical records indicate little species turnover in the Keys, although population reductions along the main highway and habitat shifts (from natural to artificial substrata) are evident. These results have implications for biodiversity survey methods and, more locally, for management of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

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