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Size-frequency distributions of Joania cordata and Argyrotheca cuneata (Brachiopoda: Megathyrididae) from the Central Tyrrhenian Sea



Size-frequency distributions can support reliable inferences concerning population dynamics of brachiopods, but only a few data are available so far. In this study, length and width frequency distributions of dead specimens of the Recent brachiopods Joania cordata and Argyrotheca cuneata from the Marine Protected Area ‘Secche di Tor Paterno’, Central Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy (41°35′ N, 12°20′ E), are reported in order to add new data about size-frequency distributions of brachiopods. The studied specimens came from death assemblages in the coralligenous substrate, in the Posidonia oceanica meadows, and in the sand channels. The observed patterns vary from left-skewed (J. cordata) to right-skewed (A. cuneata), indicating respectively a low and high mortality of smaller individuals. Significant differences between the coralligenous substrate and the P. oceanica meadow were observed for both species, revealing a variation among different habitats. All length and width distributions are clearly polymodal, but the biological meaning of the peaks is difficult to interpret, as the two species seem to have a 2-year life span. A biometric analysis of shell sizes revealed that length and width are the most variable parameters during the growth of the animal.