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"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek"


-Joseph Campbell


My research strives to enhance our knowledge of rare and unique taxa, specifically across Annelida and cave Crustacea, inhabiting environments poorly understood and often overlooked, including the subterranean, pelagic zone, deep-sea and interstitium (between sands) - seeking to infer evolutionary processes that drive diversity and adaptation, shape life history strategies and impact biogeographic distributions.

My scientific expertise is on the scale bearing Aphroditiformia (scale worms) - employing comparative taxonomic, genetic and functional biodiversity investigations across one of the most ecologically diverse annelid groups. Scale worms occupy all ecological niches between intertidal and hadal depths, leading to an unparalleled diversity of life modes, morphological adaptations and body and larval forms, yet their evolutionary history and general biology is virtually unknown.

Anchialine fauna

Godzillius robustus

Caves represent extremely isolated discrete island-like ecosystems, serving as models for basic evolutionary and biogeographic processes. Encompassing land-locked water bodies of marine origin, anchialine caves are among the last unexplored frontiers, analogous to the deep sea and inhabited by organisms often derived from deep-sea ancestors. Still a mystery to biologists, crustaceans dominate these habitats, including the iconic Remipedia (imaged), only known from anchialine caves



Worsaae K, Hansen MJ, Axelsen O, Kakui K, Møller PR, Osborn KJ, Martínez A, Gonzalez BC, Miyamoto N, Fujita Y. 2021. A new cave-dwelling genus and species of Nerillidae (Annelida) from the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. Marine Biodiversity. 51:67. doi.org/10.1007/s12526-021-01199-4

Ballou L, Iliffe TM, Kakuk B, Gonzalez BC, Osborn KJ, Worsaae K, Meland K, Broad K, Bracken-Grissom H, Olesen J. 2021. Monsters in the dark: systematics and biogeography of the stygobitic genus Godzillius (Crustacea: Remipedia) from the Lucayan Archipelago. European Journal of Taxonomy. 751:115-139. doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2021.751.1383

Gonzalez BC, Martínez A, Worsaae K, Osborn KJ. 2021. Morphological convergence and adaptation in cave and pelagic scale worms (Polynoidae, Annelida). Scientific Reports. 11:10718. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89459-y

Worsaae K, Kerbl A, Di Domenico M, Gonzalez BC, Bekkouche N, Martínez A. 2021. Interstitial Annelida. Diversity. 13:77 doi.org/10.3390/d13020077


Gonzalez BC, Martínez A, Olesen J, Truskey S, Ballou L, Allentoft-Larsen M, Daniels J, Heinerth P, Parrish M, Manco N, Ward J, Iliffe TM, Osborn KJ, Worsaae K. 2020. Anchialine biodiversity in the Turks and Caicos Islands: New discoveries and current faunal composition. International Journal of Speleology. 49:71-86. doi.org/10.5038/1827-806X.49.2.2316 


Worsaae K, Kerbl A, Vang A, Gonzalez BC. 2019. Broad North Atlantic distribution of a meiobenthic annelid – against all odds. Scientific Reports. 9:15497. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51765-x

Eibye-Jacobsen D, Aungtonya C, Gonzalez BC. 2019. Sigalionidae Kinberg, 1856. In Westheide W, Purschke G (eds), Handbook of Zoology. Annelida. DeGruyter, Berlin.

Martínez A, Gonzalez BC. 2019. Volcanic anchialine habitats of Lanzarote. In Moldovan OT, Kováč L, Halse S (eds), Cave Ecology, Ecological Studies 235, Springer. pp. 399-414. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-98852-8_19



Worsaae K, Gonzalez BC, Kerbl A, Nielsen SF, Jørgensen JT, Armenteros M, Iliffe TM, Martínez A. 2018. Diversity and evolution of the stygobitic Speleonerilla nom. nov. (Nerillidae, Annelida) with description of three new species from anchialine caves in the Caribbean and Lanzarote. Marine Biodiversity. doi.org/10.1007/s12526-018-0906-5

Gonzalez BC, Martínez A, Borda E, Iliffe TM, Eibye-Jacobsen D, Worsaae K. 2018. Phylogeny and systematics of Aphroditiformia. Cladistics. 34:225-259. doi.org/10.1111/cla.12202

Pérez-García JA, Díaz-Delgado Y, García-Machado E, Martínez-García A, Gonzalez BC, Worsaae K, Armenteros M. 2018. Nematode diversity of freshwater and anchialine caves of Western Cuba. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 131:144-155. doi.org/10.2988/17-00024

Kerbl A, Vereide EH, Gonzalez BC, Rouse GW, Worsaae K. 2018 Two new meiofaunal species of Trilobodrilus (Dinophilidae, Annelida) from California, USA. European Journal of Taxonomy. 421:1-18. doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2018.421

Gonzalez BC, Worsaae K, Fontaneto D, Martínez A. 2018. Anophthalmia and elongation of body appendages in cave scale worms (Annelida: Aphroditiformia). Zoologica Scripta. 47:106-121. doi.org/10.1111/zsc.12258



Gonzalez BC, Worsaae K, Eibye-Jacobsen D. 2017. Sigalionidae Kinberg, 1856 – Pisioninae. In Westheide W, Purschke G (eds), Handbook of Zoology. Annelida. DeGruyter, Berlin. pp. 1-15.

Gonzalez BC, Petersen HCB, Di Domenico M, Martínez A, Armenteros M, García-Machado E, Rask Møller P, Worsaae K. 2017. Phylogeny and biogeography of the scaleless scale worm Pisione (Sigalionidae, Annelida). Ecology and Evolution. 7:2894-2915. doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2853

Gonzalez BC, Martínez A, Borda E, Iliffe TM, Fontaneto D, Worsaae K. 2017. Genetic spatial structure of an anchialine cave annelid indicates connectivity within – but not between – islands of the Great Bahama Bank. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 109:259-270. doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2017.01.003


Petersen HCB, Gonzalez BC, Martínez A, Worsaae K. 2016. New species of Pisionidens (Sigalionidae, Annelida) from Akumal México. Zootaxa. 4136:165-173. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4136.1.8

Gusmão F, Di Domenico M, Amaral ACZ, Martínez A, Gonzalez BC, Worsaae K, Ivar do Sul JA, da Cunha Lana P. 2016. In situ ingestion of microfibers by meiofauna from sandy beaches. Environmental Pollution. 216:584-590. doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2016.06.015


Rubio F, Rolán E, Worsaae K, Martínez A, Gonzalez BC. 2015. Description of the first anchialine gastropod from a Yucatán cenote, Teinostoma brankovitsi n. sp. (Caenogastropoda: Tornidae), including an emended generic diagnosis. Journal of Molluscan Studies. 82:169-177. doi.org/10.1093/mollus/eyv049

Gonzalez BC, Petersen HC, Martínez A, Worsaae K. 2015. Colonization and adaptation of scale worms to interstitial and anchialine habitats (Aphroditiformia, Annelida). Integrative and Comparative Biology. 55:E68-Web.



Gonzalez BC, Singpiel A, Schlagner P. 2013. Godzillius fuchsi, a new species of Remipedia (Godziliidae) from Abaco Island, Bahamas. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 33:275-285. doi.org/10.1163/1937240X-00002132


Gonzalez BC, Borda E, Carvalho R, Schulze A. 2012. Polychaetes from the Mayan underworld: phylogeny, evolution, and cryptic diversity. Natura Croatica. 21:51-53.

Neiber MT, Hansen FC, Iliffe TM, Gonzalez BC, Koenemann S. 2012. Molecular taxonomy of Speleonectes fuchscockburni, a new pseudocryptic species of Remipedia (Crustacea) from an anchialine cave system on the Yucatán Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Zootaxa. 3190:31-46. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3190.1.2

Alvarez F, Iliffe TM, Gonzalez B, Villalobs JL. 2012. Tricanthoneus akumalensis, a new species of alpheid shrimp (Crustacea: Caridea: Alpheidae) from an anchialine cave in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Zootaxa. 3154:61-68. doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3154.1.5


Gonzalez BC, Iliffe TM, Macalady JL, Schaperdoth I, Kakuk B. 2011. Microbial hotspots in Anchialine Blue Holes: initial discoveries from the Bahamas. Hydrobiologia. 677:149-156. doi.org/10.1007/s10750-011-0932-9


Keith DA, Illiffe TM, Gerovasileiou V, Gonzalez BC, Brankovits D, Martínez A. 2020. S1.2 Endolithic systems; S2.1 Anthropogenic subterranean voids; SF1.2 Groundwater ecosystems; SF2.1 Water pipes and subterranean canals; SM1.1 Anchialine caves; SM1.3 Sea caves. In: Keith DA, Ferrer-Paris JR, Nicholson E, Kingsford RT (eds). The IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology 2.0: Descriptive profiles for biomes and ecosystem functional groups. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2020.13.en


Martínez A, Gonzalez BC, Núñez J, Wilkins H, Oromí P, Iliffe TM, Worsaae K. 2016. Guide to the anchialine ecosystems of Los Jameos del Agua and Túnel de la Atlántida. Cabildo de Lanzarote, Área de Medio Ambiente. pp. 310. ISBN-13:978-84-95938-92-3

Martínez A, Gonzalez BC, Núñez J, Wilkins H, Oromí P, Iliffe TM, Worsaae K. 2016. Guía interpretative de los ecosistemas anquialinos de Los Jameos del Agua y Túnel de la Atlántida. Cabildo de Lanzarote, Área de Medio Ambiente. pp.312. ISBN-13:978-84-95938-93-0


Engel AS, Northup DE, Gary M, Gonzalez BC, Gonzalez J, Hutchens E, Jones D, Macalady JL, Spilde M. 2008. Focus group on caves and karst as model systems in geomicrobiology. In: Martin JB & White WB, Frontiers of Karst Research, Ch. 3. Karst Waters Institute, Inc. pp. 90-95. ISBN-978-0-9789976-2-5


(12) Martinez et al. 2017_Guiaiva-ecosis


Conch Bar Cave, Turks and Caicos Islands

Scientists Brave One of the Darkest Places on Earth



Brett C. Gonzalez

National Museum of Natural History

Department of Invertebrate Zoology

MRC-163, P.O. BOX 37012

Washington D.C. 20013-7012