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No AccessJournal Articles

THE CHEMICAL SYSTEMATICS OF COLONIAL MARINE ANIMALS: AN ESTIMATED PHYLOGENY OF THE ORDER GORGONACEA BASED ON TERPENOID CHARACTERS

The classification of colonial marine invertebrates is often very difficult. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the potential of numerical chemotaxonomy and cladistic analysis to facilitate the study of the evolution of these organisms. Chemotaxonomy has contributed little to the study of these animals, in spite of the large amounts of data generated by marine natural products chemistry. Existing chemosystematic investigations of colonial animals have not employed the methods of numerical taxonomy or of cladistic analysis. As an example of the usefulness of such an approach, cladistic analysis on quantified chemical data was performed for nineteen species of gorgonians. This produced cladograms which, for the most part, agreed with classical gorgonian systematics, but which also yielded several new insights into the evolution and classification of gorgonians. Numerical chemotaxonomy and cladistic analysis should not continue to be ignored as a tool for the study of phylogenetic relationships among groups of colonial marine invertebrates.