Extensive intraspecific genetic diversity of a freshwater crayfish in a biodiversity hotspot
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1. The freshwater crayfish Cherax dispar (Decapoda: Parastacidae) inhabits coastal regions and islands of South East Queensland, Australia. We hypothesised that populations of C. dispar on different islands would be more genetically divergent from each other than populations from different drainages within the same island or on the mainland. 2. Phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses were conducted on two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome oxidase subunit I & 16S ribosomal DNA) and one nuclear gene (Internal Transcribed Spacer region 2). Phylogeographic patterns were compared with those for other freshwater organisms in the area. 3. Deep genetic divergences were found within C. dispar, including four highly divergent (up to 20%) clades. The geographic distribution of each of the clades revealed strong latitudinal structuring along the coast rather than structuring among the islands. The high genetic divergence observed among the C. dispar clades was estimated to have pre-dated island formation and may represent ancient river drainage patterns. 4. A restricted distribution was observed for the most divergent clade, which was discovered only on two of the sand islands (North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island). Furthermore, strong phylogeographic structuring was observed within this clade on North Stradbroke Island, where no haplotypes were shared between samples from opposite sides of the island. This low connectivity within the island supports the idea that C. dispar rarely disperse terrestrially (i.e. across watersheds).
Biogeography and Phylogeography