Description of the new species Sigambra nkossa (Annelida, Pilargidae), with an analysis of the distribution patterns of polychaetes associated with artificially hydrocarbon-enriched bottoms

Martin, Daniel; Gil, João; Chaineau, Claude-Henri; Thorin, Sébastien; Le Gall, Romain; Dutrieux, Eric. PeerJ 10 : e13942 (2022)   DIGITAL CSIC 

The monitoring of the N’Kossa offshore oil and gas fields in the Republic of Congo allowed us to assess the ecological traits of two polychaete species belonging to Sigambra (Annelida, Pilargidae). Sigambra parva occur in very low densities in all bottoms, except the most impacted, where it is totally absent; it is an undescribed species that reached >4,000 ind/m2 in hydrocarbon-enriched sediments. Their distribution patterns are compared with those of other polychaetes, showing a range of affinities for hydrocarbon-enriched sediments in the N’Kossa region. Our results suggest that S. parva would be a representative of the original local fauna, while the species associated with artificial hydrocarbon-enriched sediments, including the other Sigambra, six more polychaetes and a bivalve, could be natively associated with natural hydrocarbonenriched sediments, using the former as alternative habitats and as dispersal stepping stones. This ecological segregation, together with a careful morphological and morphometric analyses led us to describe the latter as a new species, namely Sigambra nkossa sp. nov. Moreover, morphometric analysis allowed us to discuss on the taxonomic robustness of the key morphological characters of S. nkossa sp. nov., as well as to emend the generic diagnosis of Sigambra to accommodate the new species.