, Volume 129, Issue 3, pp 425-433

Extensive genetic divergence between populations of the common intertidal sea anemone Actinia equina from Britain, the Mediterranean and the Cape Verde Islands

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Samples of apparently similar red morphs of the common beadlet sea anemone Actinia equina (L.) were collected from rocky shores on the Isle of Man (Irish Sea), on the French Mediterranean coast near Marseille and on the Cape Verde Island of Sal (off West Africa). For additional comparison an orange morph and the green A. prasina were also collected from the Isle of Man. Morphological descriptions were made and the samples were compared by nematocyst analysis and enzyme electrophoresis. The three British samples showed little genetic divergence (I>0.90) but the Mediterranean sample was hugely divergent (I<0.20) from the British ones. The Cape Verde Island anemones were also very different (I<0.60) from all other samples. It is concluded that the red morph samples from the Cape Verde Islands, the Mediterranean and the Isle of Man belong to three different species. For the new species from the Mediterranean and Cape Verde Islands formal descriptions are given, and the names Actinia schmidti sp.n. and Actinia sali sp.n. are proposed.