Re: Doriopsilla and developmental strategies

May 24, 2006
From: Jeff Goddard

Concerning message #16633:

Hi Bill,

Seeing Skip Pierce's message [#16633] led me to your messages [#16513] and [#10469 ] about mode of development and the potential relationship between the externally similar, but apparently geographically isolated, Doriopsilla areolata and D. miniata. The existing data on the development of these two species now appears to blur the distinctions between them, rather than separate them.

As you know, Valdés and Ortea (1997) described three subspecies of Doriopsilla areolata:
(1) D. areolata areolata from the Mediterranean and NE Atlantic,
(2) D. areolata albolineata from the eastern tropical Atlantic, and
(3) D. areolata nigrolineata from the Caribbean Sea.
The latter subspecies has large eggs and direct development (Gonsalves-Jackson,(2004). Valdés and Ortea (1997) reported a mean egg size of 106 microns for D. areolata areolata. This is consistent with the Marina Poddubetskaia's photos from Senegal [message #10345 ] and also indicates  planktotrophic development in members of this family (Goddard 2005). However, Valdés and Ortea (1997) pointed out that Ballesteros and Ortea (1980) reported eggs ranging from 209 to 266 microns in diameter for D. evanae, which according to Valdés and Ortea (1997) is a junior synonym of D. areolata areolata. Eggs this large almost certainly indicate direct development.

Therefore, based on developmental mode, one or two of the subspecies of Doriopsilla areolata might actually be the same as D. miniata. This seems ripe for a genetic analysis, and it would be most interesting to confirm the large egg size reported by Ballesteros and Ortea (1980) for specimens from northeast Spain. It would also be interesting to examine egg size and mode of development of D. miniata from Indo-Pacific sites other than New South Wales, where Rose (1985) reported its direct development. Would I love to hop on some airplanes for this!

  • Ballesteros, M. and Ortea, J.A. (1980) Contribucion al conocimiento de los Dendrodorididae (Moluscos: Opistobranquios: Doridaceos) del litoral Iberico. 1. Publicaciones del Departmento de Zoologia, Universida de Barcelona 5: 25-37.
  • Goddard, J.H.R. (2005) Ametamorphic direct development in Dendrodoris behrensi (Nudibranchia: Dendrodorididae), with a review of developmental mode in the family. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 56: 201-211.
  • Gonsalves-Jackson, D. C. (2004) Opisthobranch mollusks across the Isthmus of Panama: systematics and biogeographic distribution of developmental types. Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida.
  • Rose, R.A. (1985) The spawn and development of twenty-nine New South Wales opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 108:23-36.
  • Valdés, A. and J. Ortea. (1997) Review of the genus Doriopsilla Bergh, 1880 (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia) in the Atlantic Ocean. The Veliger 40:240-254.

Best wishes,

Goddard, J.H.R., 2006 (May 24) Re: Doriopsilla and developmental strategies. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Jeff,
I knew there was some reason I have put D. miniata in the 'too hard' basket. One thing I can do is ask anyone who see either of these species laying eggs to take a closeup photo. Certainly I can only recall seeing New South Wales specimens laying large eggs, but I have only one pair of eyes. Perhaps it has more than one development type in New South Wales? As well as knowing what type of eggs D. miniata lays elsewhere in the Indo-West Pacific it would be nice to know if the size of the eggs were variable in one geographic locality.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (May 24). Comment on Re: Doriopsilla and developmental strategies by Jeff Goddard. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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