|Title||Taxonomy and phylogeny of mud owls (Annelida: Sternaspidae), including a new synonymy and new records from the Southern Ocean, North East Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean: challenges in morphological delimitation|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2019|
|Authors||Drennan R, Wiklund H, Rouse GW, Georgieva MN, Wu X, Kobayashi G, Yoshino K, Glover AG|
|Type of Article||journal article|
Species delimitation in sternaspid polychaetes is currently based on the morphology of a limited suite of characters, namely characters of the ventro-caudal shield—a unique feature of the family. Sternaspid species description has increased rapidly in recent years; however, the validity of the shield as a diagnostic character has not been assessed through molecular means. This study performs the largest molecular taxonomy of Sternaspidae to date, using the nuclear gene 18S, and the mitochondrial genes 16S and cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) to assess phylogenetic relationships within the family, to reassess the placement of Sternaspidae within the wider polychaete tree and to investigate the effectiveness of the shield as a diagnostic morphological character. This study includes many new records and reports Sternaspis affinis Stimpson, 1864 from USA Pacific coastline and genetic connectivity between specimens identified as Sternaspis cf. annenkovae Salazar-Vallejo & Buzhinskaja, 2013 from off southeastern Australia and specimens identified as Sternaspis cf. williamsae Salazar-Vallejo & Buzhinskaja, 2013 from the northwestern Pacific. In addition, we investigate material identified as Sternaspis cf. scutata (Ranzani, 1817) in the English Channel and compare with S. scutata through both molecular and morphological means. We further perform a detailed morphological and molecular investigation of new sternaspid material collected from the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Peninsula and regard Sternaspis monroi Salazar-Vallejo, 2014 syn. n. as a junior synonym of Sternaspis sendalli Salazar-Vallejo, 2014, two species recently described from the region, raising questions concerning the validity of current morphological delimitation.