We combined behavioral, morphological (live, stained, scanning and transmission electron-microscope), and molecular data to redescribe two common, intertidal oligotrich ciliates, Novistrombidium testaceum and Strombidium inclinatum. Both species were collected from a rocky shore near Leghorn, Ligurian Sea. A literature review revealed four morphotypes of Novistrombidium testaceum that differ in subtle ways, including oral morphology. These differences may be diagnostic, but we do not consider them sufficient to distinguish different taxa. Although other studies have synonymised Strombidium inclinatum and S. sulcatum, based on oral structures, size, and nuclear structure, there are morphological distinctions between them. In particular, the present study supports a lack of anterior protuberance in both live and preserved S. inclinatum, while S. sulcatum possesses a protuberance. The 18S rDNA molecular data, in accordance with morphological and ultrastructural observations, indicate that the Strombidiida (Oligotrichia) constitute a well-supported clade. The separation of the genera within this clade, even between Novistrombidium and Strombidium, remains unresolved, and the analysis of more species is required. Finally, we recommend that when possible, ecologists, morphological taxonomists, and molecular biologists combine their expertise to provide comprehensive taxonomic descriptions.
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Vol. 50 • No. 3