Molecular phylogeny of the American Callinectes Stimpson, 1860 (Brachyura: Portunidae), based on two partial mitochondrial genes
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The genus Callinectes encompasses 16 species of commercially important swimming crabs. Most (13) occur on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the Americas. We compare mtDNA regions corresponding to 964 basepairs of the large (16S) and small (12S) ribosomal subunits among American Callinectes in order to examine phylogenetic relationships. The status of Callinectes affinis Fausto-Filho and Callinectes maracaiboensis Taissoun is questioned, and C. maracaiboensis is concluded to be a junior synonym of Callinectes bocourti A. Milne-Edwards, from which it cannot be consistently distinguished. We find two major lineages, one of which includes C. affinis, C. bocourti, Callinectes rathbunae Contreras, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, and Callinectes toxotes Ordway. A second lineage is comprised of Callinectes arcuatus Ordway, Callinectes bellicosus (Stimpson), Callinectes danae Smith, Callinectes exasperatus (Gerstaecker), Callinectes larvatus Ordway, Callinectes ornatus Ordway, and Callinectes similis Williams. Definition of these clades is supported by previously described morphological differences in the length of the gonopods and shared physioecological adaptations. A calibrated molecular clock is used to estimate divergence of the two lineages near 13 mybp. Our analyses suggest that C. ornatus is the closest relative of C. arcuatus, and that C. affinis is closest to C. bocourti.