The world in a grain of sand: evolutionarily relevant, small-scale freshwater bioregions on subtropical dune islands
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1. Conservation plans are required to safeguard freshwater biodiversity in the face of increasing threats. Traditionally plans have used surrogates for biodiversity that do not account for the evolutionary process, but genetic data in the form of comparative phylogeography can fulfil this role. 2. Comparative phylogeographic analyses of multiple freshwater fish and decapod crustacean species were carried out with specimens from two model systems, namely the sand dune islands of Fraser and North Stradbroke in eastern Australia. 3. Almost all of the species studied from both islands displayed an intraspecific evolutionary split between sides of the island (east /west on North Stradbroke Island, and north /south on Fraser Island), indicating that each side of each island hosts its own distinct community of populations of freshwater animals. 4. The probable process responsible for both of these divergent communities is different source populations for each side of each island. 5. This study shows that biodiversity will not always follow obvious geography and that significant diversity may exist at small scales within multiple species. These evolutionarily relevant units of biodiversity should be incorporated at the beginning of the conservation and resource management planning process.
Biogeography and Phylogeography