Description of Spadella valsalinae sp. nov., a neo-endemic benthic chaetognath from Northern Adriatic Sea (Croatia) with remarks on its morphology, phylogeny and biogeography

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We describe a new chaetognath species, Spadella valsalinae sp. nov., discovered and collected in the Northern Adriatic Sea (Pula, Croatia). S. valsalinae sp. nov. is a benthic species living at 10–12 m depth attached to the surface of roughly sorted sediment. The cosmopolitan, seagrass-inhabiting species Spadella cephaloptera Busch, 1851 was also recorded in the sampling area. Characters from comparative morphology and molecular phylogeny based on SSU rRNA (18S) sequences support a sister group relationship of S. valsalinae sp. nov. with Spadella lainezi and Spadella ledoyeri. Thus, S. valsalinae sp. nov. represents the first member in the ‘Spadella ledoyeri' complex that is not a troglophilic species. By comparison with the various known European Spadella species, we defined a specific set of morphological characters, such as the number, shape and mutual proportions of the teeth, the lateral fins, the corona ciliata, the seminal vesicles, as well as the presence of ventral adhesive papillae, which is unique for S. valsalinae sp. nov. The biogeography of Spadella members in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic as well as their phylogenetic relationships are discussed, with the focus on processes of neo-endemism in an epeiric area like, for instance, the Northern Adriatic Sea.

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We are grateful to Dr. Rabea Schlüter for providing time at the scanning electron microscope in her laboratory for electron microscopy (University of Greifswald). We also thank our various dive partners working at the Meeresschule in Pula who accompanied C.W. and C.M. several times to the type locality of Spadella valsalinae sp. nov. in the Bay of Valsaline (Croatia). We also appreciate the technical assistance of Mrs. Erika Becker and Dipl. Biol. Matthes Kenning (both University of Greifswald). Prof. Steffen Harzsch (University of Greifswald) gave fruitful linguistic comments. Prof. Roland R. Melzer (Bavarian State Zoological Collection, Munich) and two referees provided numerous, fruitful comments that helped us to improve the quality and consistency of our manuscript. This study was supported by grant HA 2540/7-2 in the DFG focus program “Metazoan Deep Phylogeny” (SP 1174).

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Correspondence to Carsten H. G. Müller.

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Carsten H.G. Müller and Yvan Perez share senior authorship

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Winkelmann, C., Gasmi, S., Gretschel, G. et al. Description of Spadella valsalinae sp. nov., a neo-endemic benthic chaetognath from Northern Adriatic Sea (Croatia) with remarks on its morphology, phylogeny and biogeography. Org Divers Evol 13, 189–202 (2013).

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  • Chaetognatha
  • Spadella
  • Adriatic Sea
  • Phylogeny
  • Biogeography
  • Neo-endemism