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A molecular and morphological approach on the taxonomic status of the Brazilian species of Palaemon (Decapoda, Palaemonidae)

Abstract Previous studies have indicated the occurrence of nine species of Palaemon in Brazil. However, the extensive variability in their diagnostic characters and the geographic distribution of some species raises doubts about the validity of some taxa, potentially indicating the occurrence of species not yet reported from Brazil or even not described. To solve taxonomic issues with Palaemon species in Brazil, we carried out a multigene analysis by using partial fragments of 16S and COI mitochondrial genes and the nuclear H3. Phylogenetic relationships were inferred by maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference. The external morphology corresponding to the terminal clades obtained in the molecular phylogram was analysed to identify diagnostic characters that allow the recognition of the groups and the correct taxa assignment. The combined analysis of molecular and morphological data confirms the existence of nine species of Palaemon in Brazil, five from the “Palaemon” lineage (P. mercedae and four Palaemon stensu stricto—P. argentinus, P. octaviae—first record in Brazil, P. northropi and P. paivai) and four of the “Alaocaris” lineage (P. carteri, P. ivonicus, P. pandaliformis and P. yuna). The possibility of further cryptic speciation is also pointed out. In addition to confirming the validity of the nine species, the results indicate the need for taxonomic adjustments and corresponding changes in the geographic distribution of Palaemon species occurring in Brazil.


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