The secret of the mermaid's purse: Phylogenetic affinities within the Rajidae and the evolution of a novel reproductive strategy in skates.

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:K. L. Chiquillo, Ebert, D. A., Slager, C. J., Crow, K. D.
Journal:Mol Phylogenet Evol
Date Published:2014 Jan 30

The systematics of the skates in the family Rajidae have been contentious for over 250 years, with most studies inferring relationships among geographically clustered species, and non-overlapping taxa and data sets. Rajid skates are oviparous, and lay egg capsules with a single embryo. However, two species exhibit a derived form of egg laying, with multiple embryos per egg capsule. We provide a molecular assessment of the phylogenetic relationships of skates within the family Rajidae based on three mitochondrial genes. The resulting topology supports monophyly the family. However the genusRajais polyphyletic, and several species assemblages need to be revised. We proposed a new assemblage as the Rostrorajini, which organizesrajid species into three well-supported tribal lineages for the first time. Further, these data provide an independent assessment of monophyly for the two species exhibiting multiple embryos per egg capsule, supporting their status as the unique genusBeringraja. In addition, we find that among the different size classes of egg capsules, ranging from 1-8 embryos per capsule in this genus, there is variation in frequency and survivorship. InBeringraja binoculata, the strategy of having two embryos per egg capsule occurs in the highest frequency and has the highest survivorship.

Alternate Journal:Mol. Phylogenet. Evol.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith