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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Aug;40(2):547-69. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

The Petrolisthes galathinus complex: species boundaries based on color pattern, morphology and molecules, and evolutionary interrelationships between this complex and other Porcellanidae (Crustacea: Decapoda: Anomura).

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Department of Animal Ecology and Systematic Zoology, Justus-Liebig University, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32, 35392 Giessen, Germany.


While the amphi-American porcellanid crab Petrolistes galathinus has been traditionally viewed as a highly variable species containing several different color forms, we consider it to be a complex of at least 6 morphologically similar species with similar ecological requirements, but diagnosable through coloration. Here we surveyed sequence variation of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene, compared the morphology of adults and of the first larval stage (Zoea I), and explored shape variation of the sternal plate using geometric morphometric methods, to investigate boundaries among the species in the complex, and to confirm the validity of color and color pattern for distinguishing them. Sequences and larval morphological characters of other porcellanids were included to investigate the correspondence between genetic divergence and morphology of adults and larvae. The molecular and morphometric results support the validity of the species in the complex, and of color pattern for their distinction. The close relationship between the complex and the putative ancenstral porcellanid Parapetrolisthes tortugensis was indicated by the molecular and larval-morphology results. The adult morphology of this species is interpreted as a result of convergent evolution driven by a relatively rapid ecological adaptation to conditions in deeper waters. The nesting position in the phylogenetic trees of Petrocheles australiensis outside the Porcellanidae clade questions the monophyly of this family.

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