Zoological Studies

Vol. 59, 2020

(update: 2020.06.15; 07.14)

A New Species of Predatory Nudibranch (Gastropoda: Trinchesiidae) of the Coral Pavona decussata

Juntong Hu1, Yanjie Zhang1,2, James Yang Xie1, and Jian-Wen Qiu1,2,*


1Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, 224 Waterloo Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China. *Correspondence: E-mail: qiujw@hkbu.edu.hk (Qiu), Tel: +852-34117055.
E-mail: hujuntong9@gmail.com (Hu), yanjiezhang@hkbu.edu.hk (Zhang), jamesxie@hkbu.edu.hk (Xie)
2Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), 511458, China

(Received 9 January 2020 / Accepted 5 June 2020)
Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan

Some nudibranchs are predators of scleractinian corals, but little is known about their diversity. Here we describe Phestilla fuscostriata sp. nov., the first species of nudibranch that preys on Pavona decussata, a structure-forming agariciid species in the South China Sea. This new species has a white body with brown pigmentation on the dorsum and cerata, and exhibits excellent mimicry by matching the colour of its coral host. The nudibranch lays crescent-shaped egg masses on the coral surface, where the embryos develop and hatch in 2–3 weeks. This new species possesses a large number of cerata that are arranged in widely-spaced rows, with each row having one dorsal ceras and zero to several ventral cerata, which distinguishes it from all other congeneric species. A comparison of the mitochondrial COI and 16S rRNA genes and the nuclear H3 gene between P. fuscostriata sp. nov. and other Phestilla spp. found that their interspecific distances are large enough to justify the recognition of the new species.

Key words: Coral health, Coral-eating, Corallivory, Phestilla, Molecular phylogeny.

Citation: Hu J. Zhang Y, Xie JY, Qiu JW. 2020. A new species of predatory nudibranch (Gastropoda: Trinchesiidae) of the coral Pavona decussata. Zool Stud 59:30. doi:10.6620/ZS.2020.59-30.

Supplementary Materials: Fig. S1 | Table S1 | Table S2