Key to Suborder Doridacea


Phylum Mollusca
 Class Gastropoda
  Subclass Opisthobranchia
   Order Nudibranchia

Not in Key:  Peltodoris lentiginosa

Taken primarily from  Kozloff, 1987, 1996  p. 245 (Copyright 1987, 1996, University of Washington Press.  Used in this web page by permission of University of Washington Press)
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1a Body, including the gills and long dorsal outgrowths (which resemble cerata of eolid nudibranchs) rose-pink (length up to 2 cm) Hopkinsia rosacea
1b Body not primarily rose-pink 2
2a Anus on the midline at the posterior end of the body, situated in a mantle groove between the foot and edge of the dorsum; gills located on both sides of the anus; dorsum without any outgrowths other than the rhinophores; pale ochre spots forming an intricate pattern on the otherwise white dorsum, the pattern closely resembling that of the bryozoan Membranipora, on which these dorids feed 3
2b Anus on the midline of the dorsum, one-half to one-fourth of the body length from the posterior end; gills in a circle of semicircle around the anus (picture); dorsal outgrowths include gills and rhinophores, and may also include various types of papillae or tubercles; body may be white, but an intricate pattern of ochre spots is absent, even in a few species that are found on bryozoans 4
3a With a distinct notch on the posterior border of the dorsum; with 6-14 gills on each side of the anus Corambe pacifica
3b Without a notch on the posterior border of the dorsum; with 2-4 gills on each side of the anus Doridella steinbergae 
4a Dorsum usually with some conspicuous large outgrowths in addition to the rhinophores and gills, these outgrowths generally near the rhinophores or gills or along the lateral margins of the dorsum 5
4b Dorsum without large outgrowths other than the rhinophores and gills, although it may be almost completely covered by tubercles (example picture) or slender, nearly microscopic papillae 11
5a Body firm, due to spicules in the dorsum; with short, blunt, cylindrical papillae arragned in 4-6 irregular longitudinal rows on the dorsum; body white to cream, with brown to black spots scattered over the dorsum Aegires albopuncatatus
5b  Body relatively soft (if there are spicules on the tubercles of the dorsum, they do not contribute to a supporting network); papillae, if present, scattered, not arranged in irregular longitudinal rows; body without brown to black spots on the dorsum 6
6a Body somewhat flattened dorsoventrally; with numerous (over 40) slender, club-shaped papillae all around the margin of the dorsum, and also with a few short  papillae in the central area of the dorsum; body white or cream with bright orange on the tips of the papillae and on the rhinophores, but not on the gills and not on the dorsum itself Laila cockerelli
6b Body not flattened dorsoventrally; with fewer than 30 papillae of various shapes around the margins of the dorsum, but none of these are slender and club-shaped; bright orange, if present in the color pattern, found on the gills and in spots on the dorsum itself, as well as on the papillae and rhinophores 7
7a With a few (about 10-15) small coronatepapillae along the alteral margins of the dorsum; with about 8-15 small, irregularly papillated outgrowths on the edge of the oral veil; body white to pale yellow, with deep orange on the tips of the gills, rhinophores, tail, dorsal papillae, and oral veil papillae, and also in spots on the dorsum itself Triopha catalinae
7b Without coronatepapillae on the lateral margins of the dorsum; without papillated outgrowths on the oral veil; body with little or no orange anywhere 8
8a With long, cylindrical, tapered papillae on the dorsolateral margins between the rhinophores and gills, and on the central area of the dorsum anterior to the gills; with 14 pinnate gills Okenia vancouverensis
8b If long, cylindrical, tapered papillae are present, they occur only at the edge of the oral veil, lateral to the gills, and just anterior to the rhinophores (papillae are not usually present on the dorsolateral margins between the rhinophores and gills, or on the central area of the dorsum anterior to the gills; Palio zosterae, however, may have short, blunt papillae scattered over much of the body); with fewer than 8 pinnate gills 9
9a Background color white or cream, with markings of yellow or of both yellow and black 10
9b Body deep olive to black Palio zosterae
10a With only yellow pigment on the tips of the papillae, gills, and rhinophores; with 3 parallel yellow lines between the rhinophores and gills; with 2 long, simple papillae on both sides of the body just anterior to the rhinophores; with 3 or 4 erect papillae on both sides of the gills; with 2 papillae on the right and left edges of the oral veil Ancula pacifica
10b On all papillae, gills, and rhonophores, the color changes, proximally to distally, from black to yellow to white; with yellow spots scattered over the dorsum and with a yellow line on the edge of the foot; without papillae just anterior to the rhinophores; with 3-6 erect papillae on both sides of the gills; with 6-12 papillae on the right and left edges of the oral veil Polycera tricolor
11a Gills completely retractile into sheaths; rhinophores relatively stout, not usually tapering gradually from the base to the tip 12
11b Gills not completely retractile into sheaths; rhinophores relatively slender (when fully extended, usually at least 4 times as long as wide at the base), tapering gradually from the base to the tip 25
12a Without large, rounded tubercles on the dorsum, the entire surface being either nearly smooth, minutely villous, or with very small tubercles visible only with magnification 13
12b With both large and small, rounded tubercles scattered over the dorsum, but the surface otherwise smooth 14
13a Body mostly white to dusky gray, with markings up to 1.5 cm in diameter on the dorsum, each marking usually (but not always) consisting of a white ring that encloses a brown ring with a dark brown to black center Diaulula sandiegensis
13b Body off-white to pale yellow (seldom dusky gray), without markings that consist of concentric white and brown rings (small black spots, less than 1mm in diameter, are present, however) Discodoris heathi
14a Body red or orange-red, sometimes with a few very small black spots on the dorsum; rhinophores with 10-12 vertically oriented leaves and terminating in slender, simple papillae Rostanga pulchra
14b Body white, yellow, orange, or red, sometimes with yellow or dark spots; rhinophoresperfoliate (the leaves oriented horizontally, as typical for dorids) (picture) 15
15a Body either yellow (ranging form pale yellow to lemon-yellow to dusky, greensih yellow), orange-yellow, orange, or red, with darker (usually black) spots on the dorsum (but some specimens of Aldisa sanguinea, which is red, lack spots); dorsum not edged with a line of yellow pgment 16
15b Body white, cream, or greensih (if white or cream, then sometimes with yellow spots on the tubercles of the dorsum); without dark spots on the dorsum; dorsum sometimes edged with a  line of yellow pigment 20
16a Body orange or red, usually with black spots on the dorsum 17
16b Body some shade of yellow, greenish yellow, or orange-yellow (but not decidedly orange or red), with at least some spots (except in unusual specimens) 18
17a With up to 8 black spots, usually arranged in a single row on the dorsal midline, from just anterior to the rhinophores to the gills; body as a whole generally ranging from pale orange to red (but some specimens are yellow, in which case the row of black spots on the midline is the best diagnostic character) Aldisa cooperi
17b With up to 5 black spots scattered over the dorsum, not arranged in a row on the midline; body as a whole bright red (not likely to be found north of Oregon) Aldisa sanguinea
18a Length up to 1.5 cm; body mostly pale yellow, with reddish brown flecks scattered over the dorsum and with a few larger, dark brown spots near the midline, between the rhinophores and gills; distal portions of rhinophores brownish maroon; with reddish maroon spots at the bases of the gills (uncommon north of Oregon) Hallaxa chani
18b Length commonly more than 5 cm; body yellow, greenish yellow, or orange-yellow, usually with black spots (these are rarely absent) on dorsum; rhinophores paler or duskier than the body, but not brownish maroon in their distal portions; without reddish maroon spots at the bases of the gills 
[Note:  Peltodoris lentiginosa, which is not in Kozloff's key, would key to here]
19
19a Body yellow to orange-yellow; black spots usually present only between the tubercles, rarely on them (in unusual specimens, the black spots are absent); gills and rhinophores usually paler than the body; often exuding a considerable quantity of sweet-smelling mucus when disturbed Anisodoris nobilis
19b Body lemon-yellow to greenish yellow, rarely orange-yellow; black spots present on the tubercles as well as between them; gills and rhinophores usually duskier than the body; exuding little mucus and almost odorless Archidoris montereyensis
20a Dorsum almost entirely greenish, but with a white margin Aldisa albomarginata
20b Dorsum not greenish 21
21a Dorsum white (rarely pale custard in Archidoris odhneri) or translucent white with spots of white pigment, but without any clear yellow spots or lines 22
21b Dorsum mostly white, but with yellow spots and/or a yellow line around the margin (in addition, the clavus of the rhinophores usually has some yellow to dark brown pigment) 23
22a Dorsum low, not arched, translucent white (the internal organs are partly visible) with white spots of pigment; with a ring of tubercles around the pits form which the rhinophores and gills emerge; length not more than 3 cm Aldisa tara
22b Dorsum high, arched, opaque white (internal organs not visible); without a ring of tubercles around the pits from which the rhinophores and gills emerge; length commonly exceeding 5 cm, and sometimes reaching 10 cm (Archidoris odhneri in key) Doris odhneri
23a With a continuous lemon-yellow line around the margin of the dorsum and on the posterior margin of the foot; gills and most of the dorsal tubercles with yellow tips; rhinophores usulaly white, except for yellow at their tips Cadlina luteomarginata
23b Without a yellow line around the margin of the dorsum and part of the foot; gills without yellow tips, and yellow spots on the dorsum are generally large and mostly near the margin; rhinophores dusky brown to nearly black 24
24a
24b
25a Dorsum covered with slender, flexible, close-set papillae, so that the surface appears fuzzy; papillae (which are conical or nearly so) without spicules protruding from their tips 26
25b Dorsum with stout, rounded tubercles, so that the surface is firm rather than fuzzy; tubercles (which may be conical, nearly conical, or mushroom-shaped) often with spicules protruding from their tips 28
26a Body white or slightly off-white (no other color on the dorsum or its outgrowths) Acanthodoris pilosa
26b Body mostly white or some shade of gray, but with yellow, gray, or brownish red (or some combination of these colors) on the dorsum or its outgrowths 27
27a Body mostly white, without gray on the dorsum, but with a continuous lemon-yellow line around the margin of the dorsum; with yellow on the tips of the rhinophores and gills; usually with 5 gills Acanthodoris hudsoni
27b Body mostly white to mauve-gray (there are many intergrades; darker animals have dark gray splotches), without a yellow line around the margin of the dorsum [but see note in species page]; with yellow on the tips of the papillae and brownish red on the tips of the rhinophores and gills; usually with 9 [7-9] gills Acanthodoris nanaimoensis
28a
28b
29a
29b
30a
30b
31a
31b
32a
32b



Taxonomic Levels Represented in This Key:

  Acanthodoris nanaimoensis
  Archidoris montereyensis
  Anisodoris nobilis
  Cadilina luteomarginata
  Diaulula sandiegensis
  Discodoris heathi
  Doris odhneri
  Hopkinsia rosacea
  Laila cockerelli
  Peltodoris lentiginosa
  Rostanga pulchra
  Triopha catalinae



Page created by Robbie Wheeling, 7-2002
Edited by Hans Helmstetler 1-2003, Dave Cowles 2005, 2006, 2007