Image courtesy of Marc Chamberlain
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines
Hypselodoris cf. variobranchia Gosliner & R. Johnson in Epstein et al., 2018|
Well Marc's photo here is a real conundrum. Its coloration falls within the descriptions of several Hypselodoris species. The phylogenetic analyses, reported on in Epstein et al. (2018), indicate that H. variobranchia is sister to the clade containing H. bullockii, H. melanesica, H. brycei and H. apolegma. Externally, it is most similar to H. rositoi, H. variobranchia and some color morphs of H. iba, which is a member of a separate clade. All of these species have a wide, solid opaque white marginal band. Externally, H. rositoi has a pink rather than purple body color, and H. violacea has purple rhinophores in contrast to the orange rhinophores of H. iba and H. variobranchia. Both H. iba and H. rositoi have mantle glands that are absent in H. variobranchia and H. violacea. Also, H. iba has a higher body profile than that of H. variobranchia.
The purple dorsum falls in between dark individuals of H. variobranchia (see NSSI 2nd ed, page 194) and H. sp. 7 in NSSI (2nd edition, page 195). And it has yellow-orange rhinophores and a gill like H. bullockii, H. melanesica, H. sp. 7 and H. apolegma.
What throws me off is the orange coloration on the dorsum. This feature has not been noted in any of these species. Not sure if this is actual dermal color pigment or internal organs showing through. For these reasons, I must just go with the "cf." designation, Latin for confer/conferatur, both meaning "compare with." Best I can do.
Hannah E Epstein, Joshua M Hallas, Rebecca Fay Johnson, Alessandra Lopez, Terrence M Gosliner. 2019. Reading between the lines: revealing cryptic species diversity and colour patterns in Hypselodoris nudibranchs (Mollusca: Heterobranchia: Chromodorididae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 186, Issue 1, May 2019, Pages 116-189.
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Marc,and Michelle Chamberlain