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Title: Phylogenetics, systematics and biogeography of deep-sea Pennatulacea (Anthozoa: Octocorallia) : evidence from molecules and morphology
Author: Dolan, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0001 3427 629X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2008
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Despite its extreme environmental conditions, the deep sea harbours a unique and species-rich fauna of mostly unknown age and phylogeny. Pennatulids (Anthozoa: Octocorallia) are a group whose taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships remain poorly known and little studied, in spite of their abundance and ecological importance in softbottom communities. Phylogenetic analysis of a combination of partial ND2 and msh1 sequences produced well-supported phylogenetic relationships for representative deepsea (and shallow-water) pennatulids at familial, generic and specific taxonomic levels. Generally, molecular data were congruent with current classification and previous phylogenetic reconstructions of the O. Pennatulacea based on morphology. Discrepancies were evident concerning the finer details for some families and genera: this can be attributable to the high frequency of homoplasy in pennatulids where reversals in evolution have led to taxa that possess apomorphic character states that are analogous with plesiomorphic traits. Genetic analysis gave strong support that highly-derived taxa occur in both shallow and deep water and that many may have differentiated and dispersed from the deep sea to the shallows. The Renillidae, which is considered one of the most primitive shallow-water families, evolved recently from deep-water ancestors. Conversely, the bathyal Anthoptilidae was the most primitive of families, and although more evidence is required, pennatulids as a group may have originated in deep water. The systematics of the exclusively deep-sea genus Umbellula, which contains fortytwo species, remains unclear despite the repeated attempts of revision. Incorporating new morphological and distributional data from the examination of recently collected material, together with type specimens, genetic analysis, and a critical study of the literature, fifteen Umbellula species are here considered valid, including three new to science. Eight species lack sclerites in the autozooids, U. magniflora, U. encrinus, U. antarctica, U. carpenteri and Umbellula sp.1 n. sp. (quadrangular axes), and U. huxleyi and U. pellucida (round axes); and seven possess autozooid sclerites, U. thomsoni and U. hemigymna (quadrangular axes), and U. monocephalus, U. aciculifera, U. durissima, Umbellula sp.2 n. sp. and Umbellula sp.3 n. sp. (round axes). Biogeographic data and genetic evidence supported the hypothesis that species of Umbellula differentiated in the Indo-Pacific. Many radiated southwards to the Antarctic and later north into the Atlantic, E Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans, occupying bathyal and abyssal depths. Other, older species that evolved via a separate evolutionary pathway, may have originated in the Indo-Pacific, and dispersed to the Subantarctic (U. sp.2 n. sp.) or Indian and Atlantic oceans (U. monocephalus). Further, morphological examination of Umbellula showed it adapted to the oligotrophic conditions of the deep sea by reducing the number but increasing the size of the autozooids, and in doing so, enlarged the food-catchment area; abyssal species have done so even more extremely.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GC Oceanography ; QH301 Biology