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Keywords:

  • biogeography;
  • cryptic species;
  • marine biodiversity;
  • molecular phylogenetics;
  • molluscan diversity;
  • Opisthobranchia;
  • phylogeny;
  • systematics

Scyllaeidae represents a small clade of dendronotoid nudibranchs. Notobryon wardi Odhner, 1936, has been reported to occur in tropical oceans from the Indo-Pacific and eastern Pacific to temperate South Africa. The systematics of Notobryon has not been reviewed using modern systematic tools. Here, specimens of Notobryon were examined from the eastern Pacific, the Indo-Pacific, and from temperate South Africa. Additionally, representatives of Scyllaea and Crosslandia were studied. Scyllaeidae was found to be monophyletic. Notobryon was also found to be monophyletic and is the sister group to Crosslandia plus Scyllaea. The molecular data also clearly indicate that within Notobryon, at least three distinct species are present, two of which are here described. Genetic distance data indicate that eastern Pacific and South African exemplars are 10–23% divergent from Indo-Pacific exemplars of Notobryon wardi. Scyllaea pelagica has been regarded as a single, circumtropical species. Our molecular studies clearly indicate that the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific populations are distinct and we resurrect Scyllaea fulva Quoy & Gaimard, 1824 for the Indo-Pacific species. Our morphological studies clearly corroborate our molecular findings and differences in morphology distinguish closely related species. Different species clearly have distinct penial morphology. These studies clearly reinforce the view that eastern Pacific, Indo-Pacific, and temperate biotas consist largely of distinct faunas, with only a minor degree of faunal overlap.

© 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 165, 311–336.