Sea hares within the genus Aplysia are important neurobiological model organisms; as more studies based on different Aplysia species are appearing in the literature, a phylogenetic framework has become essential. We present a phylogenetic hypothesis for this genus, based on portions of two mitochondrial genes (12S and 16S). In addition, we reconstruct the evolution of several behavioral characters of interest to neurobiologists to illustrate the potential benefits of a phylogeny for the genus Aplysia. These benefits include determination of ancestral traits, direction and timing of evolution of characters, prediction of the distribution of traits, and identification of cases of independent acquisition of traits within lineages. This last benefit may prove especially useful in understanding the linkage between behaviors and their underlying neurological bases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics