Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Timothy Swain, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Abigail Renegar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jose Lopez, Ph.D.


Zoanthidea, Biodiversity, Deep Sea, Phylogenetics, Taxonomy, Systematics, Histology, Symbioses, Abyssoanthidae, Vitrumanthus, Kulamanamana, Parazoanthidae, Epizoanthus


Zoanthidea are an understudied order of anthozoan cnidarians that are one of the most diverse of hexacorallians. Macrocnemic Zoanthidea live as symbionts on various invertebrate hosts representing at least six phyla and range from intertidal to the deep sea. Although they fill important ecological roles and are both widely distributed and highly diverse, their taxa are poorly understood, and species discovery is rapid and ongoing. Applying an integrative approach to identify species collected on Okeanos Explorer RV expeditions from the National Museum of Natural History Invertebrate Zoology Collection, allowed confident species identifications and comprehensive descriptions to be produced. ITS DNA sequences were utilized for the preliminary binning of specimens and preliminary identification of species or genera that have been previously identified. Histological sectioning was performed to access synapomorphic anatomical characters to narrow taxonomic identification. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic reconstruction using a staggered alignment of the ITS1, ITS2, 5.8S, 12S, 18S, and 28S genes was built to examine the relationships between the specimens. Zoanthideans identified include Abyssoanthidae, Kulamanamana, Epizoanthus, Parazoanthidae, and Vitrumanthus.

Available for download on Sunday, May 27, 2029