Unravelling the evolutionary history of taxa requires solid delimitation of the traits characterising these. This can be challenging especially in groups with a highly complex taxonomy. The squat lobster family Munididae contains more than 450 species distributed among 21 genera, Munida being the most speciose (~300 species). Previous phylogenetic studies, based on a small part of the diversity of the group, have suggested polyphyletic origins for Munida and the paraphyly of Munididae. Here, we use an integrative approach based on multi-locus phylogenies (two mitochondrial and three nuclear markers) paired with 120 morphological characters, to resolve taxonomic and evolutionary relationships within Munididae. Our study covers ~60% of the family’s known diversity (over 800 specimens of 291 species belonging to 19 of the 21 genera collected from the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans). Using this information, we confirm the validity of most genera, proposing new ones in cases where the genetic analyses are compatible with morphological characters. Four well-defined munidid clades were recovered, suggesting that new genera should be erected in the currently recognised Munididae (three for the genus Agononida and eleven in Munida), and the genus Grimothea is resurrected. A key to all genera of the family is presented. Molecular clock estimates and ancestral biogeographic area reconstructions complement the taxonomic profiles and suggest some explosive diversification within Munididae during the Cretaceous and the Palaeogene. Further anagenetic events and narrow sympatry accounting for changes in distribution indicate a more limited dispersal capacity than previously considered. Our study unravels how diversification may occur in deep waters and further highlights the importance of the integrative approach in accurately delineating species in understanding the history of a family and the factors driving the evolution.
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Vol. 36 • No. 10