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The northwestern Pacific Ocean is one of the hotspots of species richness and one of the high endemicity areas of the World Ocean. However, large-scale biodiversity patterns of major deep‑sea taxa such as Isopoda and Polychaeta are still poorly studied. The goal of this research is to study the distribution, biodiversity, and community composition of Isopoda and Polychaeta (including Siboglinidae and Echiura) across the northwestern Pacific Ocean and the adjacent Arctic Ocean. The study area was divided into equal-sized hexagonal cells (c. 700,000 km²), ecoregions, 5° latitudinal bands, and 200 m depth intervals as unit of analysis. Our results revealed that the area around the Philippines and the Laptev Sea had the highest isopod and polychaete’s species richness compared to the other geographic regions of our study, with a latitudinal decline of species richness in shallow waters in both taxa. In the deep sea, maximum species richness increased towards the temperate latitudes. Gamma species richness (number of species per 200 m depth interval) also declined with depth. Rarefied species richness of isopods peaked around 5000 m depth. Rarefaction curves demonstrated a great potential for undiscovered richness across 5° latitudinal bands and depth intervals. In shallow waters, polychaetes with a pelagic larval phase had a wider distribution range compared to brooding isopods, but, in the deep sea, isopods had slightly wider distribution ranges compared to polychaetes. These results thus demonstrated that shallow water taxa with pelagic larvae and polychaete species with a wide vertical distribution range could potentially invade higher latitudes, such as species from the Northwest Pacific invading the Arctic Ocean under the rapid climate change and catastrophic reduction of sea ice cover. These changes might dramatically change the benthic communities of the Arctic Ocean and management of such should take an adaptive approach and apply measures that take potential extension and invasion of species into account.
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Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.