Some variation in Pectenodoris trilineata

December 11, 2007
From: David Mullins

Dear Bill,

Herewith 2 pics demonstrating some of the variation possible within the Pectenodoris trilineata species.

The specimen in the upper photo exhibits the mantle pattern we usually encounter and after which it was obviously described. The lower photo shows a specimen with only a single central dorsal white stripe bisected with orange dashes. Compare this individual with the topmost photo on the factsheet for Pectenodoris trilineata. Without the 2 outer lateral stripes one could almost be looking at the same creature.

The individuals submitted here were found only about a metre apart and both were approx. 6 to 8 mm in length.

I often ponder the strange circumstance whereby some species are so very variable in outward "ornamentation", often to the point of being considered another species (by the uninitiated), and yet others maintain such a strict constancy of appearance.

Locality: Inner Gneerings, Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast,, 15 metres, Queensland, Australia., Pacific Ocean., 01 December 2007, Rocky Reef. Length: 6 to 8 mm. Photographer: David Mullins.

Kind regards,
David Mullins.

Mullins, D.A., 2007 (Dec 11) Some variation in Pectenodoris trilineata. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear David,
Thanks for these. The genetics of colour variation is a fascinating field of study. Very little has been done on opisthobranchs but I do know there is a vast literature on butterflies and moths and some on land snails [and I presume many other groups as well]. I guess the reason for this is that it is much easier to keep many generations of butterflies and landsnails alive in captivity than it is to keep opisthobranchs.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Dec 11). Comment on Some variation in Pectenodoris trilineata by David Mullins. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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