, Volume 145, Issue 6, pp 1119-1128
Date: 24 Jun 2004

Global phylogeography of Cassiopea (Scyphozoa: Rhizostomeae): molecular evidence for cryptic species and multiple invasions of the Hawaiian Islands

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The upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea is a globally distributed, semi-sessile, planktonically dispersed scyphomedusa. Cassiopea occurs in shallow, tropical inshore marine waters on sandy mudflats and is generally associated with mangrove-dominated habitats. Controversy over the taxonomy of upside-down jellyfishes precedes their introduction to the Hawaiian Islands during the Second World War, and persists today. Here we address the global phylogeography and molecular systematics of the three currently recognized species: Cassiopea andromeda, C. frondosa, and C. xamachana. Mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) sequences from Australia, Bermuda, Fiji, the Florida Keys, the Hawaiian Islands, Indonesia, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, and the Red Sea were analyzed. Highly divergent COI haplotypes within the putative species C. andromeda (23.4% Kimura 2-parameter molecular divergence), and shared haplotypes among populations of two separate putative species, C. andromeda and C. xamachana from different ocean basins, suggest multiple anthropogenic introductions and systematic confusion. Two deeply divergent O’ahu haplotypes (20.3%) from morphologically similar, geographically separate invasive populations indicate long-term (14–40 million years ago) reproductive isolation of phylogenetically distinct source populations and cryptic species. Data support at least two independent introductions to the Hawaiian Islands, one from the Indo-Pacific, another from the western Atlantic/Red Sea. Molecular phylogenetic results support six species: (1) C. frondosa, western Atlantic (2) C. andromeda, Red Sea/western Atlantic/Hawaiian Islands (3) C. ornata, Indonesia/Palau/Fiji (4) Cassiopea sp. 1, eastern Australia (5) Cassiopea sp. 2, Papua New Guinea and (6) Cassiopea sp. 3, Papua New Guinea/Hawaiian Islands.

Communicated by P.W. Sammarco, Chauvin