Publication details

Epigean gammarids survived millions of years of severe climatic fluctuations in high latitude refugia throughout the Western Carpathians



Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Genetics and molecular biology
Keywords Biogeographical barrier; Cryptic diversity; Endemicity; Gammarus fossarum; Northern refugium; Phylogeny
Description Isolated glacial refugia have been documented in Central Europe for a number of taxa, but conclusive evidence for epigean aquatic species has remained elusive. Using molecular data (mitochondrial and nuclear markers), we compared the spatial patterns of lineage diversity of the widely distributed Gammarus fossarum species complex between two adjacent biogeographically and geomorphologically distinct Central European regions: the Bohemian Massif and the Western Carpathians. We investigated if the observed patterns of spatial diversity are more likely to stem from historical or present-day factors. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses revealed eight phylogenetically diverse lineages: two exhibiting local signatures of recent demographic expansion inhabit both regions, while the other six display a relict distributional pattern and are found only in the Western Carpathians. Molecular dating indicates that these lineages are old and probably diverged throughout the Miocene (7–18 Ma). Furthermore, their distribution does not seem to be constrained by the present boundaries of river catchments or topography. The contrasting spatial patterns of diversity observed between the two regions thus more likely result from historical rather than contemporaneous or recent factors. Our results indicate that despite the high latitude and proximity to the Pleistocene ice sheets, the Western Carpathians functioned as long-term glacial refugia for permanent freshwater fauna, allowing the uninterrupted survival of ancient lineages through millions of years of drastic climatic fluctuations.

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