Leptopoma is a species rich genus with approximately 100 species documented. Species-level identification in this group has been based on shell morphology and colouration, as well as some anatomical features based on small sample sizes. However, the implications of the inter- and intra-species variations in shell form to the taxonomy of Leptopoma species and the congruency of its current shell based taxonomy with its molecular phylogeny are still unclear. There are four Leptopoma species found in Sabah, Borneo, and their taxonomy status remains uncertain due to substantial variation in shell forms. This study focuses on the phylogenetic relationships and geographical variation in shell form of three Leptopoma species from Sabah. The phylogenetic relationship of these species was first estimated by performing Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analysis based on mitochondrial genes (16S rDNA and COI) and nuclear gene (ITS-1). Then, a total of six quantitative shell characters (i.e., shell height, shell width, aperture height, aperture width, shell spire height, and ratio of shell height to width) and three qualitative shell characters (i.e., shell colour patterns, spiral ridges, and dark apertural band) of the specimens were mapped across the phylogenetic tree and tested for phylogenetic signals. Data on shell characters of Leptopoma sericatum and Leptopoma pellucidum from two different locations (i.e., Balambangan Island and Kinabatangan) where both species occurred sympatrically were then obtained to examine the geographical variations in shell form. The molecular phylogenetic analyses suggested that each of the three Leptopoma species was monophyletic and indicated congruence with only one of the shell characters (i.e., shell spiral ridges) in the current morphological-based classification. Although the geographical variation analyses suggested some of the shell characters indicating inter-species differences between the two Leptopoma species, these also pointed to intra-species differences between populations from different locations. This study on Leptopoma species is based on small sample size and the findings appear only applicable to Leptopoma species in Sabah. Nevertheless, we anticipate this study to be a starting point for more detailed investigations to include the other still little-known (ca. 100) Leptopoma species and highlights a need to assess variations in shell characters before they could be used in species classification.
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