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Keywords:

  • Bayesian analysis;
  • Bulla;
  • DNA sequences;
  • morphological stasis;
  • taxonomy

Bullidae are a worldwide family of marine shelled cephalaspidean gastropods with a mainly tropical distribution, but also with some representatives in temperate waters. The taxonomy of the group has in the past been based only on shell characters, and the few anatomical accounts available have not addressed more than one to three species, so there has been no agreement about the number of valid species. Seventy-two specific names and 16 varietal names have been proposed worldwide. The systematics of the family Bullidae are revised, based not only on shells but also on anatomy of all extant species and on DNA sequence data. Twelve species are recognized worldwide, including one new species here described, and all are assigned to the genus Bulla. Two species occur in the eastern Atlantic, B. striata and B. mabillei; two in the western Atlantic, B. occidentalis and B. solida; two in the eastern Pacific, B. gouldiana and B. punctulata; and six in the Indo-West Pacific, B. ampulla, B. arabica sp. nov., B. orientalis, B. peasiana, B. quoyii and B. vernicosa. Full synonymies and taxonomic histories are provided for each species. In order to promote taxonomic stability, neotypes are designated for B. striata, B. solida, B. nebulosa (valid name B. gouldiana) and B. vernicosa, and lectotypes for B. occidentalis, B. mabillei, B. punctulata, B. ampulla and B. quoyii. The type locality of B. ampulla is restricted to Mauritius. Bullidae show a general morphological stasis, with anatomy being very similar between species. However, there are high levels of intraspecific variability in the shell, radula and male genital system. In some cases species could only be separated based on molecular data . After defining the characters and geographical range of each species it became clear that sympatric species (a maximum of three) show distinctive shells and reproductive structures, which makes identification straightforward. This study employs an integrative approach, combining information on shells, anatomy, DNA and geographical distribution, in order to resolve the systematics of a difficult taxonomic group. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 153, 453–543.