Coral Reefs

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 977–990 | Cite as

Evolution of corallivory in the gastropod genus Drupella



Although muricid gastropods in the genus Drupella are well-known consumers of Indo-Pacific corals, their evolutionary and ecological history is unclear, as is their relationship to the apparently facultative coral-feeder Ergalatax margariticola, which has been reported to feed upon corals in Hong Kong. We use a well resolved molecular phylogeny (reconstructed from one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes) to show that the monophyletic genus Drupella falls into the muricid subfamily Ergalataxinae and that the genus includes ‘E. margariticola’, which is composed of two cryptic species. We show that genetic structure within the here reassigned ‘Drupella margariticola’ species complex does not relate to feeding mode, but instead seems to correspond to broad patterns of habitat ecology found in other gastropod taxa. Our analyses suggest that Drupella originated in the late Miocene (approximately 9.6 Ma) and diversified approximately 5.0 Ma, much later than the appearance of modern coral reefs in the early Cenozoic. Thus, it is possible that corallivory in Drupella evolved in response to the major expansion and reorganization of reefs that took place in the early Miocene.


Muricidae Speciation Coral feeding Molecular phylogeny Ergalatax margariticola 



We are indebted to R. Houart for advice and the loan of the fossil Taurasia sacyi. We are also very grateful for the assistance and loans provided by the staff of museums and research institutions, especially P. Bouchet, V. Héros, B. Buge and N. Puillandre of Museum nationale d’Histoire naturelle, Paris (MNHN); I. Loch and A. Miller of the Australian Museum, Sydney. We appreciated useful discussions with J. Taylor and B. Rosen. We would also like to thank the many others who provided specimens and assisted us in various ways including L. Alsayegh, C. Bird, T. Haga, T. Hamada, G. Herbert, Y. Ito, R. Jones, Y. Kano, P. Kuklinski, M. V. Modica, T. Nakano, B. Ng, S. Nielson, N. Razalli, K. S. Tan, S. H. Tan, J. D. True, R. C. Willan and Z. Yasin. We would also like to thank the PANGLAO 2004 Marine Biodiversity Project (funded by the Total Foundation and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the MNHN-IRD-PNI Santo 2006 expedition (made possible by grants, among others, from the Total Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation) for collecting some of the specimens that we used. M. C. is supported by a studentship from the Natural History Museum, London and by an Imperial College Deputy Rector’s studentship. Photography of specimens by H. Taylor, Natural History Museum, London. We thank the editor and two anonymous referees for helpful comments.

Supplementary material

338_2011_788_MOESM1_ESM.doc (54 kb)
Positions of fixed differences in the 28S rRNA gene among species/ESUs in the genus Drupella (DOC 54 kb)
338_2011_788_MOESM2_ESM.eps (2 mb)
Fig. S1 MrBayes Bayesian phylogenies of Drupella and muricid outgroups based on single gene analysis of (a) 28S rRNA, (b) 12S rRNA and (c) cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI). Support values are posterior probabilities; intraspecific support values and those <90% are not shown for the sake of clarity. Codes indicate general localities; detailed information can be found in Table 1 (EPS 2,022 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyNatural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.Division of BiologyImperial College LondonAscotUK

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