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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Six new species of luminescent myodocopid ostracodes, Vargula psammobia, V. ignitula, V. noropsela, V. scintilla, V. micarnacula, and V. lucidella, from the San Bias Islands, Panama, are described. Males of these species secrete pulses of luminescence in species-specific trains in the vicinity of shallow coral reefs at night. These species differ both in bioluminescent signaling patterns and in morphological characters. We hypothesize that these species form a monophyletic group, which we call Group H, and which also includes V. contragula Cohen and Morin, 1986, from the San Bias Islands, and possibly V. tsujii Kornicker and Baker, 1977, from California. We also hypothesize that V. psammobia and V. ignitula are sibling species, as are V. noropsela and V. scintilla. Two keys are given to the eleven known species of Vargula in the San Bias Islands, one based on morphology and the other based on bioluminescent display characters and habitat. Vargula psammobia produces a series of pulses in the shape of an "L," low over sand patches near reefs. Vertical downward displays are produced by V. ignitula, V. scintilla, and V. micamacula. However, they differ in a number of respects including train length and pulse number. Vargula ignitula displays over grass beds, V. scintilla over slopes or patches of coral, and V. micamacula at the edge of reef crests. Vargula lucidella produces vertical upward displays along reef crests. Vargula noropsela generates horizontal to long oblique trains over sand channels in the reef.


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