Phylogeny, speciation and species turnover. The case of the Mediterranean gastropods of genus Cyclope Risso, 1826



The genus Cyclope Risso, 1826 (family Nassariidae) has appeared in the fossil record since the Pliocene. Although it is still found today, the teleoconch morphology has never undergone modification, despite the fact that the protoconch morphologies of fossils (multispiral) and living forms (paucispiral) are different. They vary in their embryological and larval development and, hence, are two different species: C. migliorinii (Bevilacqua, 1928), the fossil species, and C. neritea (Linnaeus, 1758), the living species. We discuss the morphologic modifications in the evolution of this genus: the speciation that leads to its appearance and the speciation driving the Pliocene species to the living one. The order and the direction of these changes are based on phylogenetic analysis. No intermediate forms have been found showing a gradual morphological change that could have been worked by natural selection. Our analysis takes as the origin of the morphological novelties the genetic modifications in the ontogenetic processes which resulted in rapid and important phenotypic changes. Both speciation processes are sympatric cladogenetic. The changes that determine the appearance of the genus affect only the teleoconch, not the larval development. The modifications that lead from one species to the other, within the genus Cycope, affect the larval development exclusively. This points to a certain disconnection between the development of the embryo-larval phase and the young-adult formation, such that evolutionary processes could have occurred independently in different ontogenetic stages. The influence of larval ecology in relation to extinction of the ancestor and persistence of the derived species is also analysed. We hypothesize that climatic fluctuations may have affected the planktonic larvae of the fossil species, driving it to extinction. The living species, developing without the planktonic phase, would have resisted these climatic changes. We consider that the mechanisms described as drivers of the evolution of this genus can be of more general validity in prosobranch gastropods.