Naming species with no morphological indicators

Species status of Galeolaria caespitosa (Annelida:Serpulidae) inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences and morphology

Magdalena N. Halt, Elena K. Kupriyanova, Steven J B Cooper, Greg W. Rouse

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Galeolaria caespitosa Lamarck, 1818 is an endemic, gregarious serpulid annelid, ubiquitous along the intertidal zone of southern Australia, occurring from Queensland to Western Australia. We sampled specimens across this range and utilised morphological features and sequences of mitochondrial (cytochrome-b) and nuclear (ITS2) markers to assess the taxonomic status of this morphospecies. No taxonomically significant morphological differences were observed across the range of G. caespitosa. However, the molecular data revealed the existence of the following two well supported clades that were also geographically concordant for the two markers: an eastern clade, consisting of New South Wales and southern Queensland samples, and a south-western group that encompassed samples from the rest of its range. The minimum pairwise distance between members of the two groups was more than 24% for cytochrome-b, with a maximum of 1% within-group variation. In addition, analysis of molecular variation showed a high proportion (97%) of the total variation distributed among the two groups, indicative of long-term isolation of the two clades. These results suggest that G. caespitosa comprises at least two cryptic species. Here, we discuss the merits of naming new Galeolaria species, given there were no consistent morphological differences detectable and the absence of details on the type locality for G. caespitosa. We conclude that a new species of Galeolaria is warranted and describe it here as G. gemineoa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-222
Number of pages18
JournalInvertebrate Systematics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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