Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets

Bureau of Land Management California, 1975-1978

Section Responsible for Processing



This survey is unusually comprehensive due to the wide geographic area, depth range, variety of habitats and intensive collecting throughout Southern California. Different teams sampled intertidal areas (rocky, sandy, and slough), subtidal (soft sediment and rock substrate), kelp beds, and mussel communities for biotic, chemical, and geologic data. Subtidal areas included mainland shelf and slope, nearshore basins, island shelves, intermediate basins and slopes, outer banks, and deep outer basins and slopes. Large numbers of specimens were collected, providing excellent documentation of community composition, life history, interspecific and intraspecific variability over space and time. In addition, many undescribed species were found during the study.


The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 resulted in the Bureau of Land Management being charged with development of a comprehensive minerals management plan. Environmental baseline data studies and impact studies were required before offering offshore areas for resource exploitation lease. This study was designed to document existing conditions in the Southern California Bight. There were 2 phases. The first, the Baseline Survey, was a broad scale look at the multiple habitats present in the Bight. Phase two, the Benchmark Study, focused on fewer areas but in more detail.

Drs. Gilbert Jones, Kristian Fauchald, and Dale Straughan (all USC-AHF) were PIs of the subtidal soft sediment and intertidal sandy beach-slough habitat studies. Mussel bed and rocky intertidal community studies were led by Drs. Robert Kanter (USC), Steven Murray (CSU Fullerton), and Mark Littler (UC Irvine). Molluscs were identified by Dr. James McLean and others associated with NHMLAC. Taxonomic specialists working under Jones, Fauchald, and Straughan identified the rest of the invertebrates produced by the various studies.

The Benthic Macrofauna study (Jones and Fauchald) took 712 samples using a 0.063m2 USNEL-Reineck spade (box) corer and 145 biological rock dredge or 6’ beam trawl samples at 546 stations during the Baseline; during the Benchmark they sampled at 231 stations in 5 areas of interest. Material in the field was first narcotized in 6% magnesium chloride then fixed in 10% buffered formalin; after 36 hours they were rinsed in fresh water and preserved in 70% ethanol. All samples were initially sorted and vialed by phylum or class at the Benthic Sorting Laboratory, set up by USC by the R/V VELERO IV dock. Some of the fractions were completely analyzed to the lowest possible identification level (LPIL) and the species were placed in separate vials. Due to time constraints some samples were analyzed using the Rapid Identification Process (RIP) during which each taxonomic specialist was given 10 minutes to identify as much as possible before giving the sample to another specialist. An underwater shutter box camera was attached to the box core to photograph the undisturbed sea floor before collection. The raw files, associated data, and most of the photographs are now held by the NHMLAC.
495 hand-collected samples were taken by the rocky intertidal team at 7 mainland and 15 island sites. 349 epibenthic taxa of macroinvertebrates were identified and preserved. For the mussel community study 20 mainland and island sites were surveyed with 5 cores being taken at each visit. Approximately 610 invertebrate species were taken in mussel beds alone. The number of samples from the sandy beach (14 stations), slough (3 stations), and kelp bed surveys is unknown.
The majority of specimens were retained in the collections of the AHF. Bulk mollusc collections were given to Dr. James McLean, NHMLAC. The decapods, echinoderms, and polychaetes were eventually given to the NHMLAC when their respective AHF collections were donated to the museum. Minor phyla and peracarids were the last to move the NHMLAC. A comparatively small portion of the intertidal invertebrates were sent to the National Museum of Natural History as were holotypes and some paratypes of newly described species found during the survey. Additional type material remained at the AHF (now in the NHMLAC) or was sent to other museums at the describers’ discretion. A second set of voucher samples from the intertidal portion was sent to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Some of the taxonomists involved in the overall project were:
- Polychaeta: Dr. Kristian Fauchald, Larry Lovell, John Shisko, Michael Martin, Susan Williams, Thomas Kauwling, Mark Rossi, Karen Green, Rick Beckwitt, Rick Rowe, Robert Osbourne, Pat Bernhardt, Peggy O’Donnell, Fred Piltz.
- Crustacea: Dr. Mary Wicksten (Decapoda), R. Kimble, L. McKinney, Jim Wilkins (Amphipoda), Richard Klink (Amphipoda), Richard Wynn (Tanaidacea), Barry Wallerstein (Isopoda, Tanaidacea), Mark Crase (Isopoda), Ernie Iverson (Isopoda); Dr. Jerry Barnard (USNM) trained the amphipod taxonomists
- Echinodermata: Ann Muscat (Ophiuroidea, Echinoidea), Andrew Lissner (Asteroidea), Mary Bergen (Holothuroidea), Mary Wright
- Mollusca: Dr. James McLean, Gale Sphon, Pat LaFollette, Jay Shrake, Don Cadien (Opisthobranchia)
- Minor phyla: Bruce Thompson (Nemertea, Sipuncula, Echiura), John Ljubenkov (Cnidaria), Karen Green (Porifera), Dr. Jerry Bakus (Porifera), Curt Smecher (Porifera), Dr. Fred G. Hockberg (Cnidaria)

Collection Location and Dates

Point Conception to San Diego and the Channel Islands, 1975-1978.
NHMLAC collections contain specimens from four habitats as follows:
(1) benthic infauna
(2) intertidal mussel study led by Kanter
(3) intertidal invertebrates – Seapy / Murray / Littler – most of this material went to USNM
(4) intertidal sandy beach led by Dale Straughan

Taxonomic Contents

More than 1,000 species of Polychaeta, Crustacea, Mollusca, Echinodermata, and 14 minor phyla are represented in the collections. The number of specimens is unknown but estimated to be well over 10,000.


Balcom, B.J. 1981. Results of the 1975-1978 BLM baseline studies and analysis program:
subtidal benthic environments of the Southern California Bight. POCS Technical Paper 81-8
(BLM-YN-P/T-81-009-1792), Pacific OCS Office, Bureau of Land Management, Los Angeles,
Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 1977. Southern California baseline study, intertidal, year
two final report volume III, report 1.4: Kelp survey of the Southern California Bight.
Bureau of Land Management [BLM]. 1978. Intertidal study of the Southern California Bight—
Volume 3. Department of the Interior Contract AA550-CT6-40.
Fauchald, K. and G.F. Jones. 1979. A survey of five additional southern California study sites. In: Southern California outer continental shelf environmental baseline study, 1976/1977
(Second year) benthic program. Vol. II, Ser. 2, Report 18. Prepared by Science Applications,
Inc., La Jolla, CA, for the Bureau of Land Management.
Fauchald, K. , and G. F. Jones. 1979b. Variation in community structure of shelf, slope
and basin macrofaunal communities of the southern California bight (Report 19). In Science Applications, Inc. , La Jolla, Calif. , Southern California outer Continental Shelf environmental baseline study, 1976/ 1977 (Second Year) Benthic program, Volume II, Principal investigators' reports,
Series 2, Reports 18-24, NITS PB 8016601. 720 p.
Fauchald, K. , and G. F. Jones.. 1983. Benthic macrofauna (Report 2.4, 412 p.) . In Southern
California baseline studies and analysis, Final report, 1975-1976, Vol. III . Prepared by Science Applications, Inc. , La Jolla, Calif. (SAl 76-809-LJ) , for the Bureau of Land Management.
Jones, G.F. , Thompson, B.E. 1988. The distribution and abundance of Chloeia pinnata Moore, 1911 (Polychaeta: Amphinomidae) on the Southern California Borderland. Pacific Science 41(1-4): 121-131.
Kanter, R.G. 1978. Mussel community study. Southern California Baseline Study, final report. Vol.. III, rep. 1.2. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Dept. Interior, Washington, D.C.
Kanter, R.G. 1979. Mussel community study. Southern California Baseline Study, final report. Vol. II, rep. 7; Vol. III, rep. 2.0; Vol. IV, rep. 2.0. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Dept. Interior, Washington, D.C.
Kanter, R.G. 1978. Biogeographic patterns in mussel community distribution from the Souterhn California Bight. 341-
Littler, M.M. (ed.). 1978a. Spatial and temporal variations in the distribution and abundance
rocky intertidal and tidepool biotas in the Southern California Bight. Year I - Southern California
Outer Continental Shelf Program. Bureau of Management, Tech. Rep. III-I.I. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC.
Littler, M.M. (ed.). 1978b. The annual and seasonal of Southern California rocky intertidal, subtidal and tide pool biotas. Year II - Southern California Outer Continental Shelf Program. Bureau of Land Management, Tech. Rep. III-1.1. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC.
Littler, M.M. (ed.). 1979. The distribution, abundance and community structure of rocky intertidal and
pool biotas in the Southern California Bight. Year III, Southern California Outer Continental Shelf Program. Bureau of Land Management, Tech. Rep. III-1.0. U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC.
Littler, M.M. and D.S. Littler. 1979. Rocky intertidal island survey. Vol. II, Report 5.0 in southern California intertidal survey year III. Prepared by Science Applications, Inc. for the Bureau of Land Management, Pacific OCS Office, Los Angeles, CA. Contract No. AA551-C17-44.
Littler MM. 1980. Overview of the rocky intertidal systems of Southern California. In D.M.
Power, ed. The California islands: Proceedings of a multidisciplinary symposium. Santa
Barbara, California: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. pp 265-306.
Murray SN, Littler MM, Abbott IA. 1980. Biogeography of California marine algae with
emphasis on the southern California islands. In D. M. Power, ed. The California Islands:
Proceedings of a Multi-disciplinary Symposium. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural
History, Santa Barbara, California. Pp 325-339.
Seapy, R.R., Littler, M.M. 1993. Rocky intertidal macroinvertebrates of the southern California Bight: an overview and checklist. Third California Islands Symposium: 293-322.
Straughan, D. 1977. Sandy beaches and sloughs. Southern California Baseline Study, final report III, rep. 2.3 and Appendices. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Dept. Interior., Washington, D.C.
Straughan, D. 1978. Baseline study of sandy beaches and sloughs in the southern California borderland. 1976-1988. Science Applications Inc., La Jolla, Calif.
Straughan, D., Hadley, D. 1980. Ecology of sandy beaches. 2nd California Islands Multidisciplinary Symposium, pp. 369-393.
Thompson, B.E. 1982. Food resource utilization and partitioning in macrobenthic communities of the southern California bight. Doctoral thesis. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 463 pp.

Selected papers describing new species
Fitzhugh, K. 1991. Systematics of several fabriciin fan worms (Polychaeta: Sabellidae: Fabriciinae) previously referred to Fabricia or Fabriciola. Journal of Natural History 25(5): 1101-1120.
Iverson, E.W., Wilson, G.D. 1980. Paramunna quadratifrons, new species, the first record of the genus in the North Pacific Ocean (Crustacea: Isopoda: Pleurogoniidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washignton 93(4): 982-988.
McLean, J.H. 1979. A new monoplacophoran limpet from the continental shelf off southern California. Contributions in Sciences, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 307: 1-19.
Salazar-Vallejo, S.I., Bailey-Brock, J.H., Dreyer, J.C. 2007. Revision of Pseudexogone Augener, 1922 (Annelida, Polychaeta, Syllidae), and its transfer to Pilargidae. Zoosystema 29(3): 535-553.
Salazar-Vallejo, S.I., Harris, L.H. 2006. Revision of Pilargis de Saint-Joseph, 1899 (Annelida, Polychaeta, Pilargidae). Journal of Natural History 40(3-4): 119-159
Shisko, J.F. 1981. Five new polychaetes of the families Eunicidae and Onuphidae, collected in 1975 and 1976 during the southern California Baseline Project. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 94(4): 968-983.
Thompson, B.E. 1980. A new bathyal sipunculan from Southern California, with ecological notes. Deep Sea Research Part A. Oceanographic Research Papers 27(11): 951-954.

Description of Collection

Specimens that were identified to the 4 major taxa – Polychaeta, Crustacea, Mollusca, and Echinodermata – are located in the respective NHMLAC collection areas. Minor phyla are in the MBC banks. RIP samples were left at phylum, class, or family level are also in their respective NHMLAC collection area or on the MPC banks.

Collection Inventory

Number of lots at NHMLAC is unknown.

Collection Assets

Date View or Retrieve File Information
09/12/2023 Visit BLM station data and reports
08/25/2011 Retrieve [205.5 kB] Original spreadsheet for locality data.

Curatorial Status (Click to view)