Abstract

The genus Lepidochitona (Gray 1821) contains relatively small chitons with a distinctive girdle, dorsally clothed with non-overlapping calcareous corpuscles. In the Caribbean, it is represented by four species: L. liozonis (Dall, & Simpson, 1901), L. rosea Kaas, 1972, L. rufoi García-Ríos, 2010 and L. bullocki García-Ríos, 2011. A rutinary morphological inspection of 10 specimens of a Lepidochitona species from the Florida Keys was concordant with L. liozonis (the only species of the genus informed for Florida). They did not show many morphological differences that could justify its separation from the specimens from Puerto Rico (the type locality). However, the comparison of sequences of the mitochondrial gene coding for cytochrome oxidase I (COI) of L. liozonis from Puerto Rico and the Florida specimens showed a divergence of 14%. This divergence is incompatible with a reproductively connected species. In addition to their genetic differences, the new species differs from L. liozonis in having bigger size, longer marginal spicules and a postmucronal slope very concave.

Keywords: Mollusca, chiton, Lepidochitona, Caribbean, sibling species