The marine species of the southern coast of Australia have not been well studied with regard to molecular connectivity. Cryptic species are expected to be prevalent on this coastline. Here, we investigate the crinoid genus Cenolia (Echinodermata: Crinoidea: Comasteridae) using molecular methods to elucidate cryptic species and phylogenetic relationships. The genus Cenolia dominates the southern Australian crinoid fauna in shallow waters. Few studies have examined crinoids for cryptic species at a molecular level and these have been predominantly based on mitochondrial data. We employ the nuclear markers 28S rRNA and ITS-2 in addition to the mitochondrial COI. Six divergent mitochondrial clades were identified. Gene flow between confirmed clades was subsequently examined by the use of six novel microsatellite markers, showing that sympatric taxa with low mtDNA divergences (1.7% K2P) were not interbreeding in the wild. The type specimens of Cenolia benhami and C. spanoschistum were examined, as well as all six divergent clades. Morphological characters dividing taxa were refined. Due to comb pinnule morphology, the New Zealand species benhami was determined to belong to the genus Oxycomanthus (nov. comb.). Three new species of Cenolia (including the Australian "benhami") require description.
- Cryptic species