In the biogeographical and taxonomical literature before the 1980s there was a wide perception that widespread, often referred to as ‘cosmopolitan’, species were very common among polychaetes. Here we discuss the origins of this perception, how it became challenged, and our current understanding of marine annelid distributions today. We comment on the presence of widely distributed species in the deep sea and on artificially extended ranges of invasive species that have been dispersed by anthropogenic means. We also suggest the measures needed to revolve the status of species with reported cosmopolitan distributions and stress the value of museum collections and vouchers to be associated with DNA sequences in resolving species distributions.
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Vol. 32 • No. 1