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Rediscovery of the horseshoe shrimp Lightiella serendipita Jones, 1961 (Cephalocarida: Hutchinsoniellidae) in San Francisco Bay, California, USA, with a key to the worldwide species of Cephalocarida

July 22, 2020

Lightiella serendipitaJones, 1961 was first discovered in San Francisco Bay, California in 1953, but it had not been observed since 1988. In 2017, a total of 13 adult L. serendipita specimens were found as part of a study in central San Francisco Bay, nearly doubling the total number of specimens ever collected. We measured vertical distribution of macroinvertebrates and environmental variables, including grain size and chemical composition of sediment samples, to evaluate potential features associated with the habitat of the species. Specimens were generally found in sediments with low organic matter (1.7–3%), high sulfate concentrations (594.6–647 ppm SO4), fine grain size (12.8–36.2% sand, 35.6–58% silt, 22.8–37.6% clay) and were mostly found in deep core sections (4–10 cm). Specimens were also consistently observed in cores containing tube-forming Polychaeta (i.e., Sabaco elongatus (Verrill, 1873) and Capitellidae), suggesting L. serendipita may have a commensal relationship with sedentary polychaetes, as do other cephalocaridans such as Lightiella incisaGooding, 1963. We provide a scanning electron micrograph of L. serendipita and the first complete key to the species in class Cephalocarida to help elucidate the taxonomy of this rare crustacean taxon. The perceived absence of L. serendipita in previous surveys of the Bay may be attributable to its rarity; however, additional research is needed to fully understand habitat requirements and population size of this unique endemic species.