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      Evolutionary history of relict Congeria (Bivalvia: Dreissenidae): unearthing the subterranean biodiversity of the Dinaric Karst

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          Patterns of biodiversity in the subterranean realm are typically different from those encountered on the Earth’s surface. The Dinaric karst of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a global hotspot of subterranean biodiversity. How this was achieved and why this is so remain largely unresolved despite a long tradition of research. To obtain insights into the colonisation of the Dinaric Karst and the effects of the subterranean realm on its inhabitants, we studied the tertiary relict Congeria, a unique cave-dwelling bivalve (Dreissenidae), using a combination of biogeographical, molecular, morphological, and paleontological information.


          Phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses using both nuclear and mitochondrial markers have shown that the surviving Congeria lineage has actually split into three distinct species, i.e., C. kusceri, C. jalzici sp. nov. and C. mulaomerovici sp. nov., by vicariant processes in the late Miocene and Pliocene. Despite millions of years of independent evolution, analyses have demonstrated a great deal of shell similarity between modern Congeria species, although slight differences in hinge plate structure have enabled the description of the two new species. Ancestral plesiomorphic shell forms seem to have been conserved during the processes of cave colonisation and subsequent lineage isolation. In contrast, shell morphology is divergent within one of the lineages, probably due to microhabitat differences.


          Following the turbulent evolution of the Dreissenidae during the Tertiary and major radiations in Lake Pannon, species of Congeria went extinct. One lineage survived, however, by adopting a unique life history strategy that suited it to the underground environment. In light of our new data, an alternative scenario for its colonisation of the karst is proposed. The extant Congeria comprises three sister species that, to date, have only been found to live in 15 caves in the Dinaric karst. Inter-specific morphological stasis and intra-specific ecophenotypic plasticity of the congerid shell demonstrate the contrasting ways in which evolution in the underground environments shapes its inhabitants.

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          Most cited references 18

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          An index of substitution saturation and its application.

          We introduce a new index to measure substitution saturation in a set of aligned nucleotide sequences. The index is based on the notion of entropy in information theory. We derive the critical values of the index based on computer simulation with different sequence lengths, different number of OTUs and different topologies. The critical value enables researchers to quickly judge whether a set of aligned sequences is useful in phylogenetics. We illustrate the index by applying it to an analysis of the aligned sequences of the elongation factor-1alpha gene originally used to resolve the deep phylogeny of major arthropod groups. The method has been implemented in DAMBE.
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            Sphaeriid and corbiculid clams represent separate heterodont bivalve radiations into freshwater environments.

             D. O`Dell,  J. Park (1999)
            Nine families of bivalve molluscs have undergone successful radiations in freshwater habitats, including three heterodont taxa: the Sphaeriidae, Corbiculidae, and Dreissenidae. Although the phylogenetic relationships of these freshwater heterodont families are controversial, most workers place the first two in the superfamily Corbiculoidea and assume that they represent a monophyletic grouping. We have tested competing phylogenetic hypotheses for the Corbiculoidea by constructing a representative molecular phylogeny, based on domains D1-D3 of the nuclear large subunit 28S rDNA, for 18 heterodont bivalves and for two oyster outgroup taxa. Our results do not support the monophyly of the Corbiculoidea and are consistent with the hypothesis that all three families of freshwater heterodonts represent independent colonization events by marine ancestors. Similarities in developmental mode specializations exhibited by some sphaeriids and corbiculids, such as sequential direct-developing broods, represent convergent adaptations to the freshwater environment. The corbiculid taxa form a clade with venerid and mactrid outgroups but we were not able to identify a putative marine outgroup for the sphaeriids. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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              Neogene lake systems of Central and South-Eastern Europe: Faunal diversity, gradients and interrelations


                Author and article information

                Front Zool
                Front. Zool
                Frontiers in Zoology
                BioMed Central
                6 February 2013
                : 10
                : 5
                [1 ]Division of Molecular Biology, Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Bijenička 54, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
                [2 ]Croatian Biospeleological Society, Demetrova 1, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
                [3 ]Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
                [4 ]Croatian Natural History Museum, Demetrova 1, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
                Copyright ©2013 Bilandžija et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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