Notes on the position of the true freshwater crabs within the brachyrhynchan Eubrachyura (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura)

Abstract

Cladistic and phenetic relationships of 51 eubrachyuran crab genera, comprising 36 genera of marine crabs and 18 genera of true freshwater crabs from 7 families, were investigated using 121 parsimony-informative adult morphological characters. The data matrix was subjected to four different treatments: (1) a cladistic analysis with a combination of unordered and ordered characters, (2) a cladistic analysis with all characters unordered, (3) neighbour-joining, and (4) UPGMA phenetic analyses. The parsimony analysis conducted with a combination of ordered and unordered characters produced a set of hypotheses which supported monophyly of a Pseudothelphusidae+Potamoidea clade. Furthermore, exemplar genera of the Bythograeidae and Pinnotheridae formed an unresolved polytomy with the Pseudothelphusidae+Potamoidea group, the Thoracotremata. The trichodactylid freshwater crabs were positioned as the sister taxon of the basal portunoid Carcinus, but were unresolved relative to other portunoids and geryonids. Second, the parsimony analysis conducted with all characters unordered resulted in a [bythograeid, pseudothelphusid+potamoid, pinnotherid, thoracotreme] group with no hierarchical resolution, which in turn formed a polytomy with a goneplacid+portunoid clade and a polyphyletic Xanthoidea. And third, phenetic groupings of the eubrachyuran genera invariably placed the pseudothelphusids with the potamoids, and this clustered with a group containing the thoracotremes (either in whole or part). Support was thus found for morphological connections among the nontrichodactylid freshwater crabs, thoracotremes, bythograeids, and pinnotherids, and for the placement of the trichodactylids within the Portunoidea. These two latter findings (that used a range of genera from each family) are broadly congruent with a previous cladistic analysis of selected eubrachyuran familial groundpatterns that used a basal exemplar of each marine and freshwater crab family (Sternberg et al., 1999). However, it is clear that the large scale homoplasy identified here may nullify any reliable hypothesis of brachyrhynchan groupings at this stage.

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Sternberg, R.v., Cumberlidge, N. Notes on the position of the true freshwater crabs within the brachyrhynchan Eubrachyura (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura). Hydrobiologia 449, 21–39 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1017560113027

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  • Crustacea
  • freshwater crabs
  • Pseudothelphusidae
  • Potamoidea
  • Thoracotremata
  • Eubrachyura
  • cladistics
  • phenetics