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Phylogeography and phyloecology of dorid nudibranchs (Mollusca, Gastropoda)

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Dorid nudibranchs exhibit a number of anatomical and physiological adaptations that reflect a complex evolutionary history. The lack of a fossil record means that all available information on the evolution of this group comes from phylogenetic evidence. Deep imbalances in the phylogeny of dorid nudibranchs indicates that this group has probably undergone random extinction events and subsequent speciation of derived lineages. Sister-group relationships between eastern Pacific, Atlantic and tropical Indo-Pacific taxa [(eastern Pacific, Atlantic) Indo-Pacific], repeated throughout several lineages of dorid nudibranchs, provide solid evidence of two consecutive vicariant events: (1) the closure of communication between the tropical Indo-Pacific region and the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, which began during the Oligocene–Miocene transition and was completed with the formation of the East Pacific Barrier, and (2) the rise of the Panama isthmus. The absence of solid dates for the effective isolation of the eastern Pacific and the central Pacific does not allow estimations of the time of diversification of dorid nudibranchs. Phylogenetic evidence indicates that omnivorism and de novo synthesis of chemical defences are probably the plesiomorphic conditions in dorid nudibranchs. It is also likely that all sponge-feeding cryptobranch dorids have a common ancestor, but other cases of sponge feeding in phanerobranch dorids have arisen independently. The numerous instances in which de novo synthesis was replaced by sequestration of chemicals from the prey are evidence of a great metabolic versatility in dorid nudibranchs. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 83, 551–559.

Keywords: adaptation; evolutionary history; metabolic and physiological versatility; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-12-01

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