Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 407–423 | Cite as

A comprehensive and integrative re-description of Synchaeta oblonga and its relationship to Synchaeta tremula, Synchaeta rufina and Synchaeta littoralis (Rotifera: Monogononta)

  • Tanja WilkeEmail author
  • Wilko H. Ahlrichs
  • Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds
Original Article


A comprehensive re-description of the monogonont rotifer Synchaeta oblonga Ehrenberg, 1832 is presented with the aim of creating a specific and robust suite of characters to identify this species that takes account of its morphological intraspecific variability. To accomplish this, we used an integrative approach that combined morphological data of the habitus and trophi (light and scanning electron microscopy) together with ecological and molecular data to generate a data set that clearly delineates S. oblonga from the morphologically similar Synchaeta tremula (Müller, 1786) with which it is often confused. In addition, by comparing S. oblonga to all remaining members of the genus Synchaeta, we found that the literature descriptions of Synchaeta rufina Kutikova and Vasiljeva, 1982, a Lake Baikal endemic species, and Synchaeta littoralis Rousselet, 1902, a species whose taxonomic status with respect to S. oblonga had already been called into question, to both lie entirely within the range of intraspecific morphological variability present in S. oblonga. Thus, we conclude that S. oblonga can be clearly demarcated from S. tremula, but that no unambiguous morphological differences exist to delineate it from either S. rufina or S. littoralis. Because our molecular data indicate S. oblonga to be a single species despite the morphological intraspecific variability that is present, we recommend that thorough re-examinations of the taxonomic statuses of both S. rufina and S. littoralis should be performed on topotypes sampled from their type localities (Lake Baikal, Russia and Dundee, Scotland, respectively).


Rotifera Morphology Trophi Species delimitation Synonymy Intraspecific variability 



We acknowledge Elina Kling and Janna Kling for the translation of Kutikova and Vasiljeva’s (1982) initial description of S. rufina and Backhuys Publishers for their permission to reproduce the drawings of S. rufina and S. littoralis from Hollowday (2002, p. 120, Figs. 117 and 122; p. 158, Fig. 277). We further thank Andreas Wanninger for the editorial remarks and Martin Sørensen and an anonymous reviewer whose comments and suggestions helped to improve our manuscript.


The financial support was provided by the government of Lower Saxony.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Wilke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wilko H. Ahlrichs
    • 1
  • Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds
    • 1
  1. 1.AG Systematik und Evolutionsbiologie, Institut für Biologie und Umweltwissenschaften (IBU)Carl von Ossietzky Universität OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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