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Bálint, M. . Pleistocene and Holocene history of Rhyacophila aquitanica (Insecta: Trichoptera) in the Carpathian Mountains, potential speciation centers. 2009.

Abstract: The present study was carried out to investigate genetic relationships among populations of a mountain Trichoptera species. While the European mountains harbor an important part of European biodiversity, mountain aquatic and semi-aquatic species are still not sufficiently investigated. We chose Rhyacophila aquitanica as model organism: the populations of this species are known from several European mountains, but the distribution of the species is very fragmented, raising a number of questions about the origin and identity of different populations. Previous work describing taxonomic structures within R. aquitanica also supported our choice. Specimens were obtained from almost all major distributional areas of the species. A number of morphometric and genetic analyses were carried out on collected and museum specimens. Based on the results of morphometric and genetic studies Carpathian and Southern Alps populations of what was previously considered R. aquitanica are now considered as distinct taxonomic entities. The study revealed important aspects of speciation events among the investigated species and thus presented evidence for allopatric differentiation in the European mountain systems. The study proves that many of the observed present-day structures of the European mountain diversity may be much older than the last Pleistocene glaciation. In the case of the R. aquitanica complex the differentiation events probably happened several hundreds of thousand years earlier than the last glacial maxima among the Carpathian, western European and Southern Alps clades. The present study also points towards the importance of mountain aquatic habitats as biodiversity hotspots and emphasizes their role in the preservation of the European mountain biodiversity.

Keywords: poplation genetics, phylogeography, European mountains, aquatic ecosystems


Posted by Miklós BÁLINT


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