Meeting Abstract

33-2  Thursday, Jan. 5 13:45 - 14:00  Delimiting Cryptic Sea Slugs with Novel Integrative Methods AWBREY, JD*; KRUG, PJ; University of Louisiana, Lafayette; California State University, Los Angeles

Cryptic species that are morphologically similar to named taxa pose pervasive taxonomic challenges in soft-bodied marine invertebrates. Molecular species delimitation methods can be used to discover taxonomically new species; however, morphology can be more informative than DNA in cases of cryptic species, because morphology can evolve faster than DNA sequences. A recent species delimitation method (iBPP) jointly analyzes molecular and morphological data to account for these processes. I applied this method to host-specialized sea slugs that have been suggested as biocontrol vectors for invasive algae: the genera, Oxynoe and Lobiger. I will present molecular and morphological evidence for two cryptic species in Oxynoe, and seven in Lobiger. Based on DNA sequence data from three genes per individual and five genes per nominal species, these 7 new species hypotheses were supported by at least one of three delimitation models: a single-gene barcode gap method, and two coalescent methods that vary in how evolutionary processes are modeled. As a final test of these species hypotheses, l used iBPP to combine six characters measured from the microscopic radular teeth, in an integrative approach for identifying and describing putative species.