• Arthrocardia;
  • Chiharaea;
  • Chiharaea americana comb. nov.;
  • Chiharaea bodegensis;
  • Chiharaea silvae comb. nov.;
  • Corallina melobesioides comb. nov.;
  • Corallinales;
  • intermediate frond hypothesis;
  • NE Pacific;
  • rbcL;
  • Yamadaia

Phycologists have hypothesized that the diminutive fronds produced by species in the genera Chiharaea and Yamadaia, which are composed of comparatively few genicula and intergenicula, represent morphological intermediates in the evolution of articulated corallines from crustose ancestors. We test this “intermediate frond hypothesis” by comparing rbcL sequences from the generitype species Chiharaea bodegensis and Yamadaia melobesioides to sequences from other coralline genera. We demonstrate that Chiharaea includes two other NE Pacific species, Arthrocardia silvae and Yamadaia americana. Chiharaea species are characterized morphologically by inflated intergenicula and axial conceptacles with apical or acentric pores. Although relationships among the three species are unresolved, Chiharaea bodegensis, C. americana comb. nov., and C. silvae comb. nov. are distinguished from one another by DNA sequences, morphology, habitat, and biogeography. Chiharaea occurs together with Alatocladia, Bossiella, Calliarthron, and Serraticardia macmillanii in a strongly supported clade of nearly endemic north Pacific articulated coralline genera and species that have evolved relatively recently compared to other articulated corallines. In contrast, NW Pacific Yamadaia melobesioides belongs in a clade with Corallina officinalis, the generitype species of Corallina, and therefore we reduce Yamadia to a synonym of Corallina and propose Corallina melobesioides comb. nov. We reject the ‘intermediate frond hypothesis’ and conclude that Chiharaea and Yamadaia are recently derived taxa that evolved from articulated coralline ancestors and represent a reduction in the number of genicula and intergenicula.