Among metazoans, crustaceans display the greatest disparity between body plans and are second only to the insects in overall species diversity. Within the crustaceans, the Amphipoda rank as one of the most speciose extant orders. Amphipods have successfully invaded a variety of ecosystems, including the pelagic midwater environment. Despite their abundance in varied and dissimilar habitats, and the use of traditional morphological and systematic comparative analyses, phylogenetic relationships among amphipods remain uncertain. The pelagic amphipods, hyperiids, have highly divergent life histories and morphological attributes in comparison to more familiar benthic, nearshore, intertidal, and terrestrial amphipods. Some of these adaptations are likely correlated with their pelagic life history and include features such as hypertrophied olfactory and visual systems, duplications of the eyes, and an array of modifications to the appendages. Many of these morphological features may represent homoplasies, thus masking the true phylogenetic relationships among extant hyperiid amphipods. Here, we sample a wide range of amphipod taxa for the COI gene and present the first preliminary molecular phylogeny among the hyperiids.
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