New Publication: Xanthidae MacLeay, 1838 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Xanthoidea) systematics: A multi-gene approach with support from adult and zoeal morphology

Remember the crab team? The result of this international collaboration was recently published in Zoologische Anzeiger.

(From left: Dr Joelle Lai, Prof. Danièle Guinot, Prof. Peter Ng, Dr Paul Clark and Dr JC Mendoza.)

Abstract: Currently, 13 subfamilies are recognised in the brachyuran family Xanthidae: Actaeinae, Antrocarcininae, Chlorodiellinae, Cymoinae, Etisinae, Euxanthinae, Kraussiinae, Liomerinae, Polydectinae, Speocarcininae, Xanthinae, Zalasiinae and Zosiminae. This classification has been based on shared adult features like a transversely ovate carapace, well defined dorsal carapace regions, usually with lateral dentition, stout chelipeds and relatively short ambulatory legs. Such characters are now considered to be convergent. Consequently a number of higher xanthid taxa may be artifical and not monophyletic. A broad sample of 147 xanthid species representing 75 out of 124 genera from all 13 xanthid subfamilies were sampled in a multi-gene analysis. Four markers (three mitochondrial and one nuclear) were used and yielded a tree with ca. 30 xanthid clades. Monophyletic support was demonstrated for the Antrocarcininae (although substantially redefined), Cymoinae, and Polydectinae. Almost every other subfamily was para- or polyphyletic. Furthermore, the two other families of the Xanthoidea, Pseudorhombilidae and Panopeidae, were found nested within the Xanthidae. The molecular results were consistent with phylogenetic relationships implied by a suite of novel and/or neglected “ventral” adult characters including sternal characters, position of genital openings and morphology of the first zoea, instead of “dorsal” characters traditionally used to infer xanthid relationships.

Reference: Lai et al., 2011. Xanthidae MacLeay, 1838 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Xanthoidea) systematics: A multi-gene approach with support from adult and zoeal morphology. Zoologischer Anzeiger – A Journal of Comparative Zoology, 50:4, 407-448.

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