Combined Use of Morphological and Molecular Tools to Resolve Species Mis-Identifications in the Bivalvia The Case of Glycymeris glycymeris and G. pilosa


Morphological and molecular tools were combined to resolve the misidentification between Glycymeris glycymeris and Glycymeris pilosa from Atlantic and Mediterranean populations. The ambiguous literature on the taxonomic status of these species requires this confirmation as a baseline to studies on their ecology and sclerochronology. We used classical and landmark-based morphometric approaches and performed bivariate and multivariate analyses to test for shell character interactions at the individual and population level. Both approaches generated complementary information. The former showed the shell width to length ratio and the valve asymmetry to be the main discriminant characters between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations. Additionally, the external microsculpture of additional and finer secondary ribs in G. glycymeris discriminates it from G. pilosa. Likewise, landmark-based geometric morphometrics revealed a stronger opisthogyrate beak and prosodetic ligament in G. pilosa than G. glycymeris. Our Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses based on COI and ITS2 genes identified that G. glycymeris and G. pilosa form two separate monophyletic clades with mean interspecific divergence of 11% and 0.9% for COI and ITS2, respectively. The congruent patterns of morphometric analysis together with mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenetic reconstructions indicated the separation of the two coexisting species. The intraspecific divergence occurred during the Eocene and accelerated during the late Pliocene and Pleistocene. Glycymeris pilosa showed a high level of genetic diversity, appearing as a more robust species whose tolerance of environmental conditions allowed its expansion throughout the Mediterranean.

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Ariadna Purroy, Tanja Šegvić-Bubić, Anna Holmes, Ivana Bušelić, Julien Thébault, Amy Featherstone, and Melita Peharda

Publication Date

September 26, 2016


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