Slugs with an Identity Crisis phylogenetic analysis of the Hypselodoris bullocki complex

Meeting Abstract

P2.103  Tuesday, Jan. 5  Slugs with an Identity Crisis: phylogenetic analysis of the Hypselodoris bullocki complex LOPEZ, Alessandra I*; GOSLINER, Terrence M; JOHNSON, Rebecca F; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California Academy of Sciences; California Academy of Sciences

Nudibranch mollusks are shell-less snails that utilize warning coloration for defense. Their color patterns are often species-specific and can be used to distinguish closely related species. There are several competing hypotheses concerning the Hypselodoris bullocki complex. Some taxonomists have suggested that the complex is a single species that exhibits a great deal of variation, while others consider the complex to be made up of several distinct species. We investigated the Hypselodoris bullocki complex with two main questions in mind; how many distinct species are in the complex and how important is color variation in species delineation? We examined specimens representing seven color morphologies that have been considered members of the Hypselodoris bullocki complex. The molecular data consisted of three different genes, H3, 16S and CO1. While the morphological data included the comparison of radulae, jaws, rhinophoral lamellae, gills, mantle glands, and the reproductive system. It is clear the complex is made up of more than one species. Color pattern is a strong indicator for species identification. Trees were constructed using molecular data and morphological features were mapped onto the resulting molecular tree. Further research is still needed to investigate some color forms of the Hypselodoris bullocki complex, as alcohol preserved material accompanied by photos is not yet available for every observed color pattern.

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