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Molecular Phylogenetics of Mole Crabs (Hippidae: Emerita)

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Abstract Mole crabs of the genus Emerita (Family Hippidae) inhabit many of the temperate and tropical sandy beaches of the world. The nine described species of this genus are rarely sympatric, and most are endemic to broad biogeographic regions. The phylogenetic relationships among the species have not yet been investigated. Based on presumed morphological synapomorphies, it has been suggested that the species inhabiting the New World constitute a monophyletic group, as do the species inhabiting the Old World. The relationships within the New World species were previously studied using sequence data from Cytochrome Oxidase I and 16S rRNA mitochondrial genes; the results strongly suggested that one of the species, Emerita analoga, was very divergent from the other taxa examined. This observation prompted uncertainty about monophyly of the New World species. The goal of the present study was to elucidate the relationships among the species within the genus Emerita. Partial sequences for the mitochondrial COI and 16S rRNA genes for all nine species of the genus (and several outgroups) were examined. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that E. analoga is closer to the Old World taxa than to the other New World species; thus the New World Emerita species do not constitute a monophyletic group.

Affiliations: 1: (PAH) Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, U.S.A. (; (YKT) GSPH-Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania 15260, U.S.A. (; (IK, correspondence) School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, U.S.A. (


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