Towards Integrative Systematics of Anthozoa (Cnidaria): Evolution of Form in the Order Zoanthidea
A decade of research inferring evolutionary relationships from nucleotide sequences has demonstrated a fundamental misconception of the evolution of form in Zoanthidea. Morphological features that define current taxa are plesiomorphic or homoplastic and do not circumscribe clades of species delineated by ecological and molecular characters. Although molecular data have been critical in exposing this deficiency, their parataxonomic application to Zoanthidea has created a barrier to comprehensive revision within the order. Species descriptions and higher taxon definitions based on nucleotide sequences isolate new taxa from the existing taxonomic system and restrict the application of novel systematics hypotheses to a fraction of the known diversity of taxa. This creates competing taxonomic systems that do not benefit from the knowledge contained in the opposing system. To enable the integration of modern molecular data with more than a century of morphological research, characters that can simultaneously span the parataxonomy barrier, existing taxonomic system and historical record must be identified. Here, we test the utility of morphological characters for integrative systematics by reviewing commonly described and novel morphological characters, assessing independence of character components and analysing character homoplasy and ancestral states on the most comprehensive molecular phylogeny available. The results indicate a rich diversity of form that span the full range of homoplasy values, including more than a dozen independent characters useful to systematics or differentiating closely related species. The least homoplasious characters include traditionally targeted (fifth mesenteries, marginal muscle arrangement, encircling sinus) and novel (fissure morphology, basal canals of the mesenteries) features. These analyses represent a first step in identifying characters necessary for reunification and revision of Zoanthidea systematics.
Timothy D. Swain, Anna M. Strimaitis, Kim E. Reuter, and William Boudreau. 2017. Towards Integrative Systematics of Anthozoa (Cnidaria): Evolution of Form in the Order Zoanthidea .Zoologica Scripta , (2) : 227 -244. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/1004.