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Developmental and genetic evidence for the existence of three morphologically cryptic species of Crepidula in northern Chile
Veliz, D.; Winkler, F.M.; Guisado, C. (2003). Developmental and genetic evidence for the existence of three morphologically cryptic species of Crepidula in northern Chile. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 143(1): 131-142.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Veliz, D.
  • Winkler, F.M.
  • Guisado, C.

    The taxonomy of Crepidula has been based principally on shell morphology, but shell characteristics in this genus may be strongly influenced by the substrates they inhabit and are thus of limited use in classification. Four species in this genus are currently recognized from the Chilean coast, of which two, Crepidula dilatata and C. fecunda, are sympatric. These species are morphologically cryptic and differ only in their larval development: C. dilatata has indirect development with a planktonic phase, and C. fecunda direct development within egg capsules. The other two species, C. coquimbensis and C. philippiana, are species that occur within gastropod shells inhabited by hermit crabs and differ from the other species in internal morphology of the shell, developmental features, and geographic distribution. Analyses of nine morphological characters, eight developmental characters, and 26 enzymatic loci were carried out on four Crepidula populations in the Coquimbo region of northern Chile. Four populations of Crepidula were identified based on morphological, developmental, and protein electrophoresis features. Our results suggest the presence of C. coquimbensis plus three morphologically cryptic species including C. dilatata, C. fecunda, and a new previously unrecognized cryptic species. All four populations showed differences in larval development pattern. C. fecunda have indirect development, with free-swimming larvae. The remaining three species have intracapsular metamorphosis, but different modes of larval nutrition. C. dilatata have nurse eggs that are consumed by mechanical destruction; C. coquimbensis engulf nutritional embryos; and the new species eat nutritive embryos by rotation. Protein electrophoresis data support the specific condition of each group with different larval development and endorse the use of developmental differences in taxonomy of Crepidula. Genetic distance shows that C. dilatata and C. fecunda are closely related, and that C. coquimbensis is closer to them than to the new cryptic species.

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