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Research Technical Report

Phylogenetic Revision of the Hippasterinae (Goniasteridae; Asteroidea): Systematics of Deep Sea Corallivores, Including One New Genus and Three New Species

Mah, C., M. Nizinski, and L. Lundsten (October 2010)

Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 160:266-301


The Hippasterinae is a subfamily within the Goniasteridae, consisting of five genera and 26 species, which occur in cold-water settings ranging from subtidal to abyssal depths. All known genera were included in a cladistic analysis resulting in two most parsimonious trees, supporting the Hippasterinae as monophyletic. Our review supports Sthenaster emmae gen. et sp. nov. as a new genus and species from the tropical Atlantic and two new Evoplosoma species, Evoplosoma claguei sp. nov. and Evoplosoma voratus sp. nov. from seamounts in the North Pacific. Hippasteria caribaea is reassigned to the genus Gilbertaster, which previously contained a single Pacific species. Our analysis supports Evoplosoma as a derived deep water lineage relative to its continental-shelf, shallow water sister taxa. The genus Hippasteria contains approximately 15 widely distributed, but similar-looking species, which occur in the northern and southern hemispheres. Except for Gilbertaster, at least one species in each genus has been observed or is inferred to prey on deep-sea corals, suggesting that this lineage is important to the conservation of deep-sea coral habitats. The Hippasterinae shares several morphological similarities with Circeaster and Calliaster, suggesting that they may be related.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
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