Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

Taxonomic revision and phylogenetic relationships of apomorphic sabellids (Polychaeta) from Australia

María Capa
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Marine Invertebrates, Aquatic Zoology, Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia. Email:,

Invertebrate Systematics 21(5) 537-567
Submitted: 25 January 2007  Accepted: 31 August 2007   Published: 7 November 2007


Knowledge about the diversity and distribution of Australian coastal sabellids (Polychaeta) is still scarce. Examination of specimens housed in museum collections has increased the number of species recorded in Australia and helped to clarify the relationships among certain taxa of Sabellidae. Australian specimens belonging to a group of genera considered the most derived of the Sabellidae were the subject of this taxonomic revision, resulting in the description of five new species in four genera (Laonome calida, sp. nov.; Perkinsiana anodina, sp. nov.; P. longa, sp. nov.; Potaspina australiensis, sp. nov.; and Pseudopotamilla monoculata, sp. nov.). In addition, this is the first record of Potaspina Hartman, 1969 and Perkinsiana Knight-Jones, 1983 in Australia. A phylogenetic analysis of these and other apomorphic sabellids revealed their evolutionary relationships and supported the monophyly of most genera with the exception of Perkinsiana and Pseudopotamilla Bush, 1905. Some characters not considered in previous cladistic analyses were proven useful in elucidating relationships within Sabellidae. The diagnoses of Perkinsiana, Potaspina and Pseudopotamilla were emended. A dichotomous key is presented for identification of Australian apomorphic sabellids.


This study is part of a project supported by a postdoctoral fellowship (MEC/Fulbright) of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Sciences (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia). I would like to thank Sue Lindsay for her excellent work in the SEM laboratory (AM) and Pat Hutchings (AM) for letting me use all her photographic and digitalising equipment. I am grateful to the collection managers and technical officers of the AM, MV and MAGNT for all their help providing and registering the material studied so quickly. Robin Wilson (MV) and Chris Glasby (MAGNT) were extremely helpful and hospitable during my visits to their institutions. Finally, I would like to express special gratitude to Anna Murray (AM) who reviewed an early version of the manuscript and patiently corrected the English and Pat Hutchings for discussion and for always being supportive and encouraging. The comments and changes made by three anonymous referees also improved the manuscript.


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