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The utility of morphological characters in gastropod phylogenetics: an example from the Calyptraeidae
Collin, R. (2003). The utility of morphological characters in gastropod phylogenetics: an example from the Calyptraeidae. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 78(4): 541-593
In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0024-4066, more
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  • Collin, R.

    Organismal taxonomy is often based on a single or a small number of morphological characters. When they are morphologically simple or known to be plastic, we may not have great confidence in the taxonomic conclusions of analyses based on these characters. For example, calyptraeid gastropod shells are well known for their simplicity and plasticity, and appear to be subject to frequent evolutionary convergences, but are nevertheless the basis for calyptraeid taxonomy. In a case like this, knowing how the pattern of relationships inferred from morphological features used in traditional taxonomy compares to the patterns of relationships inferred from other morphological characters or DNA sequence data would be useful. In this paper, I examine the relative utility of traditional taxonomic characters (shell characters), anatomical characters and molecular characters for reconstructing the phylogeny of calyptraeid gastropods. The results of an ILD test and comparisons of the recovered tree topologies suggest that there is conflict between the DNA sequence data and the morphological data. Very few of the nodes recovered by the morphological data were recovered by any other dataset. Despite this conflict, the inclusion of morphological data increased the resolution and support of nodes in the topology recovered from a combined dataset. The RIs and CIs of the morphological data on the best estimate topology were not any worse than these indices for the other datasets. This analysis demonstrates that although analyses can be misled by these convergences if morphological characters are used alone, these characters contribute significantly to the combined dataset.

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