Combining morphological and genomic evidence to resolve species diversity and study speciation processes of the Pallenopsis patagonica (Pycnogonida) species complex
Pallenopsis patagonica (Hoek, 1881) is a morphologically and genetically variable sea spider species whose taxonomic classification is challenging. Currently, it is considered as a species complex including several genetic lineages, many of which have not been formally described as species. Members of this species complex occur on the Patagonian and Antarctic continental shelves as well as around sub-Antarctic islands. These habitats have been strongly influenced by historical large-scale glaciations and previous studies suggested that communities were limited to very few refugia during glacial maxima. Therefore, allopatric speciation in these independent refugia is regarded as a common mechanism leading to high biodiversity of marine benthic taxa in the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere. However, other mechanisms such as ecological speciation have rarely been considered or tested. Therefore, we conducted an integrative morphological and genetic study on the P. patagonica species complex to i) resolve species diversity using a target hybrid enrichment approach to obtain multiple genomic markers, ii) find morphological characters and analyze morphometric measurements to distinguish species, and iii) investigate the speciation processes that led to multiple lineages within the species complex.