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Ghanimi, Hessam; Schroedl, Michael; Goddard, Jeffrey H. R.; Ballesteros, Manuel; Gosliner, Terrence M.; Buske, Yan and Valdes, Angel (2020): Stargazing under the sea: molecular and morphological data reveal a constellation of species in the Berthella stellata (Risso, 1826) species complex (Mollusca, Heterobranchia, Pleurobranchidae). In: Marine Biodiversity, Vol. 50, No. 1, 11

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Molecular and morphological evidence support the view that the widely distributed species Berthella stellata (Risso, 1826) is a species complex of at least eight different species. The closely related species Berthella plumula (Montagu, 1803), examined for comparison, is also a complex of two species;the name B. plumula is retained for the Atlantic species and the name Berthella perforata (Philippi, 1844) is proposed for the Mediterranean species. The B. stellata species complex forms a monophyletic group when the Eastern Pacific species Berthella strongi (MacFarland, 1966) is included. Based on a critical review of the literature, the name Berthella stellata is retained for the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean species, and the name Berthella pellucida (Pease, 1860) is resurrected for a species found in the Hawaiian Islands. Two new species from the Caribbean region (Berthella nebula sp. nov., Berthella vialactea sp. nov.) and one from the Eastern Pacific (Berthella andromeda sp. nov.) are described herein, but the status of the Brazilian species B. tupala Er. Marcus, 1957 remains uncertain. Two possible new species from the Eastern Pacific, represented by one specimen each, were recovered in the phylogenetic analyses but not formally described. It is hypothesized that additional species of this complex may occur in other parts of the Indo-Pacific tropics, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

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