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Global diversity of free living flatworms (Platyhelminthes, “Turbellaria”) in freshwater

Authors:Ernest R. Schockaert, Matthew Hooge, Ronald Sluys, Steve Schilling, Seth Tyler and Tom Artois

Abstract:This contribution reviews diversity of turbellarian species by biogeographical regions, with comments on species biology. The review draws on the database available at Comparisons between regions suggest that species richness may be at least one order of magnitude higher than the currently reported number of species. In the context of the recent reconstructions of phylogeny of Platyhelminthes based on molecular data, the paper allows inferences as to the history of colonization of freshwaters by turbellarians. Specifically, four, or perhaps six, major invasions of freshwater habitats may have occurred in the Pangean period, each of which gave rise to a monophyletic freshwater taxon. In addition, several occasional invasions by representatives of marine taxa must have taken place.

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