Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Timothy Swain, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jose Lopez, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Andrew Bauman, Ph.D.


Cnidaria, Zoanthidea, Molecular Parataxonomy, Integrative Systematics, Histology


Cnidarian order Zoanthidea is a relatively understudied group of invertebrates inhabiting a diverse range of marine habitats. Over/During the last two decades, species descriptions within this order have largely been based on a novel molecular parataxonomic system that relies almost exclusively on DNA barcodes to detect and describe new species. DNA barcodes are short, conserved sequences that are readily compared across taxa and used to detect previously described species. The existing taxonomic system, based on anatomical analysis and the identification of evolutionarily informative characters for phylogenetic inference, has been recently replaced by molecular parataxonomy by some scientists/researchers. While molecular sequence data has been critical in quickly identifying new species of Zoanthidea, the sole reliance on a single source of information to describe species and infer evolutionary relationships falls short of modern taxonomic standards and practices. This research revisited the molecular parataxonomic species descriptions of five genera-type species within the Zoanthidea. Formal genus and species descriptions forKulamanamana haumeaae, Zibrowius ammophilus, Hurlizoanthus parrishi, Kauluzoanthus kerbyi, and Bullagummizoanthus emilyacadiaarum were expanded to include microanatomical character analyses. Each type-specimen was found to exhibit the cyclically transitional marginal musculature arrangement as predicted by previous analyses. A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis was not achieved, due to the failure in extracting genetic material from the type specimens. The rationale for creating five monospecific genera (Sinniger et al., 2013) was examined by mapping physical characters onto a redrawn phylogeny (Carreiro-Silva et al., 2017; Swain, 2018). Despite the specious reasoning of the original rationale for the erection of five monospecific genera, these genera names remain valid in the absence of additional molecular data from the type specimens.