Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 37–53 | Cite as

Morphological and genetic species diversity in ostracods (Crustacea: Oligostraca) from Caribbean reefs

  • Alexandra M. Galindo Estronza
  • Mónica Alfaro
  • Nikolaos V. Schizas
Caribbean Coral Reefs


The taxonomy and ecology of ostracods in the Caribbean remain incomplete, even though they are among the most successful and ubiquitous microcrustaceans of marine ecosystems. In an effort to enhance our knowledge of the biodiversity, abundance, and distribution of benthic ostracods, several sediment samples were collected from mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands at different depths (30–102 m) using technical diving. The highest densities of ostracods were found in the deepest samples (≥61 m), and these were the most abundant and diverse assemblages. All ostracods collected belong to the subclasses Myodocopa Sars and Podocopa Sars. Myodocopa was represented by the families Cypridinidae Baird, Polycopidae Sars, Sarsiellidae Brady & Norman, Rutidermatidae Brady & Norman, Cylindroleberididae Müller, and Philomedidae Müller. On the other hand, Podocopa was represented by the following families: Bairdiidae Sars, Pontocyprididae Müller, Candonidae Kaufmann (subfamily Paracypridinae Sars), Macrocyprididae Müller, Loxoconchidae Sars, Xestoleberididae Sars, Cytherellidae Sars and Cytheromatidae Elofson. The subclass Podocopa showed the highest number of individuals and species. There was a ~100 % correspondence between morphologically identified species and genetically defined species through a short region of the nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA, which was shown to be appropriate for species recognition and discrimination in ostracods. Using a morphological (shell shape and ornamentation) and molecular barcoding approach (28S rDNA), we provide the first report of the biodiversity of ostracods in the mesophotic coral ecosystems of northeastern Caribbean.


Ostracoda Mesophotic coral ecosystems Morphology Molecular Barcoding Caribbean Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands 



We thank the Technical Diving Team of the Department of Marine Sciences: Ivonne Bejarano, Milton Carlo, Michael Nemeth, Hector Ruiz, and Clark Sherman, for the collection of mesophotic samples. Undergraduate students from the Department of Biology assisted with the processing of samples. We are thankful to Dr. Todd Oakley and his laboratory crew (University of California Santa Barbara), Dr. Simone Nunes (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte), and María Inés F. Ramos (Museu Goeldi) for looking at some Ostracoda confocal pictures and helping with family designations. The 2010–2012 Mesophotic Cruises were supported by NOAA awards to the Caribbean Coral Reef Institute (CCRI) of UPRM: NA06NOS4780190, NA10NOS4260223, NA11NOS4260157, and NA11NOS4260184. Sea Grant of Puerto Rico awarded to NVS and MA, funded partially this project. The first author was supported by the Lerner Gray Memorial Fund of the American Museum of Natural History, International Women’s Fishing Association (IWFA), Sigma Xi Grants-In-Aid of Research (Grant ID: G20130315164016), Golden Key International Honour Society (Research Grant), and HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute). We thank the CCRI and Dr. Richard Appeldoorn (UPRM) for providing a research assistantship to the first author during a portion of the study. We are also grateful for the constructive comments and suggestions provided by the anonymous reviewers on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

12526_2016_525_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (116 kb)
Online Resource 1 GPS Coordinates, depth and date of sampling stations from MCEs of Puerto Rico (PR) and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (PDF 115 kb)
12526_2016_525_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (104 kb)
Online Resource 2 Coordinates, depth and date of sampling stations from shallow-water habitats of Puerto Rico (PR), U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and other areas of the Caribbean, North Atlantic and Pacific (PDF 103 kb)
12526_2016_525_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (137 kb)
Online Resource 3 Species and Morphbank images accession numbers used in this study. Numbers after species name signify sample identifiers. (PDF 136 kb)
12526_2016_525_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (121 kb)
Online Resource 4 Sequence alignment of 28S (v-x) and (dd-ff) regions for the studied Myodocopa and Podocopa species. Sequences were aligned with MUSCLE (Edgar 2004) as implemented in MEGA 7 (Kumar et al. 2016) (PDF 120 kb)


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra M. Galindo Estronza
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mónica Alfaro
    • 1
  • Nikolaos V. Schizas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Puerto Rico at MayagüezMayagüezUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of Puerto Rico at MayagüezMayagüezUSA

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