Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 101–109 | Cite as

Bipolarity in sea slugs: a new species of Doridunculus (Mollusca: Nudibranchia: Onchidoridoidea) from Antarctica

  • Juan Moles
  • Heike Wägele
  • Gabriele Uhl
  • Conxita Avila
Original Article


Bipolar distributions of benthic taxa have intrigued many biologists since the first Antarctic expeditions. Records of taxa, either at species or higher taxonomic levels, encompassing this peculiar distribution have been regularly reported since then. Moreover, the study of heterobranch mollusks from remote areas, such as Antarctica, often provides key taxa so far unknown, which might be essential for systematics. Here, we describe a new species of nudibranch from the eastern Weddell Sea using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), namely, Doridunculus punkus n. sp. (Akiodorididae). Hitherto, the genus Doridunculus was only reported from the Arctic region. We provide an extensive description of morphological and anatomical characters of D. punkus n. sp., thereby offering new insights into the anatomy of the understudied Akiodorididae. A comparison of all Akiodorididae species shows that D. punkus n. sp. exhibits intermediate characters between some Onchidoridoidea families (i.e., hook-shaped innermost lateral teeth). Furthermore, the detailed study of its reproductive system suggests a close relationship of both Akiodorididae and Goniodorididae. We suggest an Antarctic origin of Akiodorididae followed by dispersion and a subsequent speciation in the Arctic.


Akiodorididae Phanerobranchia Heterobranchia Weddell Sea Disjunct distribution Micro-CT 



We thank Prof W. Arntz and the crew of the RV of Polarstern for inviting us to participate in the Antarctic cruise ANT XXI/2 (AWI, Bremerhaven, Germany). We are indebted to the German Science foundation for funding the micro-CT at the University of Greifswald (INST 292/119-1 FUGG and INST 292/120-1 FUGG) and to P. O. M. Steinhoff and J. Krieger for their help with the micro-CT scans. Funding was also provided by the Spanish government through the ECOQUIM (REN2003-00545, REN2002-12006-E/ANT) and DISTANTCOM (CTM2013-42667/ANT) grants. J. Moles was supported by a Ph.D. grant of the Spanish Government (MEC; BES-2011-045325) and by the Systematic Research Fund of the Systematics Association and the Linnean Society of London for research visits at G. Uhl’s lab.

Supplementary material

13127_2016_309_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (18.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 18961 kb)
13127_2016_309_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (15 mb)
ESM 2 (PDF 15387 kb)


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Moles
    • 1
  • Heike Wägele
    • 2
  • Gabriele Uhl
    • 3
  • Conxita Avila
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Sciences and Biodiversity Research Institute (IrBIO)University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Zoological Research Museum Alexander KoenigBonnGermany
  3. 3.General and Systematic Zoology, Zoological Institute and MuseumUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

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