Ophiolepis cincta

Boissin, Emilie, Hoareau, Thierry B., Paulay, Gustav & Bruggemann, J. Henrich, 2016, Shallow-water reef ophiuroids (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) of Réunion (Mascarene Islands), with biogeographic considerations, Zootaxa 4098 (2), pp. 273-297 : 289-290

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Ophiolepis cincta


Ophiolepis cincta   MÜLLER & TROSCHEL, 1842 complex sp. 1

(UF- 6581, Fig. 5 View FIGURE 5 g, KC 759971 View Materials )

Material. 1 spm, St. 4; 1 spm, St. 7

Remarks. The specimens present a symmetrical arrangement of the disc scales (contrary to O. irregularis Brock, 1888   ). The disc scales are naked and do not present tubercles (contrary to O. rugosa Koehler, 1898   and O. nodosa Duncan, 1887   ). Disc scales are encircled by small scales; series of supplementary scales are also present on the distal edge of each arm segment (contrary to O. unicolor   HL Clark, 1938 that lacks supplementary scales on the arm segments). The entire disc is smooth and lacks larger scales thickened at the edges [contrary to O. cardioplax (Murakami, 1943)   whose disc has an irregular profile]. Finally, O. cincta   is easily distinguishable from O. superba   HL Clark, 1915 that has a peculiar colour pattern (see below). Ongoing work indicates that O. cincta   is a species complex of at least 18 lineages (Pineda et al. in prep). Two species that differ in colour pattern and COI sequence are present on Réunion: O. sp. 1. with a reddish brown disc with some white patches, and banded arms, and O. sp. 2 with a relatively even, tan or grey colour. As these two sympatric forms are reciprocally monophyletic in COI sequences and have consistent colour differences, they are demonstrably biological species. Sloan et al. (1979) also noted these two forms in Aldabra and assigned them to O. cincta cincta   and O. cincta garretti   , respectively. Specimens from Madagascar and Mayotte (personal observation) and Aldabra ( Sloan et al. 1979) that are related to O. sp. 1 are a darker reddish brown with white patches, and are genetically differentiated (Hoareau et al. 2013). Ophiolepis cincta   was described from the Red Sea. The Red Sea population is genetically divergent from both forms on Réunion (unpublished data), but is relatively close to, and forms an allopatric complex with, this species and the Madagascar-Mayotte lineage. Abundance: 1.

Distribution. The complex is widely recorded across the IWP from the Red Sea and East Africa to Polynesia ( Clark & Rowe, 1971); however Hoareau et al. (2013) show substantial cryptic diversity across this range. This species complex is a new record for Réunion and the Mascarene Islands. Within this complex, sp. 1 is currently only known from Réunion.


University of Coimbra Botany Department