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      Distribution and a comparative analysis of the aquatic invertebrate fauna in caves of the western Caucasus

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      Subterranean Biology

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The freshwater fauna of nine caves in central Abkhazia, western Caucasus, revealed 35 species of stygobionts, including 15 new species to be described elsewhere. The number of species per station increased from the depth towards the entrance in caves Golova Otapa and Abrskila, becoming the highest in the epigean part. In both caves, two abundance peaks of aquatic invertebrates were registered: one in the entrance area, associated with the development of amphibiotic insect larvae, the other in the depths due to the high numbers of stygobionts. In Cave New Athos, the highest species richness and abundance were observed in large lakes. In caves Golova Otapa and Abrskila, two faunistic complexes with complementary distributions were found, the first due to amphibiotic insects in the cave entrance area, the second one composed of stygobionts in the deep areas. The impact of anthropogenic factors on aquatic cave communities was also noted. The stygobiotic faunas of all caves studied were clearly divided into three groups, following the number of river valleys in which they were situated. The stygobiont faunas of the caves located within one river valley appeared to be 50% similar. In contrast, the fauna composition of the stygobionts from caves situated in different valleys shared not more than 12% species in common. Stygobiotic shrimps and gastropod mollusks show profound local endemism. Stygobiotic Amphipoda penetrating the ground waters revealed wide distributions between cave systems within a single karst massif.

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          Relationship between morphological taxonomy and molecular divergence within Crustacea: proposal of a molecular threshold to help species delimitation.

          With today's technology for production of molecular sequences, DNA taxonomy and barcoding arose as a new tool for evolutionary biology and ecology. However, their validities still need to be empirically evaluated. Of most importance is the strength of the correlation between morphological taxonomy and molecular divergence and the possibility to define some molecular thresholds. Here, we report measurements of this correlation for two mitochondrial genes (COI and 16S rRNA) within the sub-phylum Crustacea. Perl scripts were developed to ensure objectivity, reproducibility, and exhaustiveness of our tests. Our analysis reveals a general correlation between molecular divergence and taxonomy. This correlation is particularly high for shallow taxonomic levels allowing us to propose a COI universal crustacean threshold to help species delimitation. At higher taxonomic levels this correlation decreases, particularly when comparing different families. Those results plead for DNA use in taxonomy and suggest an operational method to help crustacean species delimitation that is linked to the phylogenetic species definition. This pragmatic tool is expected to fine tune the present classification, and not, as some would have believed, to tear it apart.
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            A molecular test for cryptic diversity in ground water: how large are the ranges of macro-stygobionts?

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              Testing dispersal and cryptic diversity in a widely distributed groundwater amphipod (Niphargus rhenorhodanensis).

              Theories about colonization and evolution in groundwater have assumed that the fragmented structure of groundwater strongly limits dispersal. The high number of endemic and allopatric species in groundwater supports this hypothesis, but the occurrence of widely distributed groundwater taxa calls into question its universality. These widely distributed taxa might also be sets of cryptic species because extreme conditions of life in groundwater promote cryptic diversity by inducing convergent morphological evolution. Niphargus rhenorhodanensis is a widely distributed and ubiquitous groundwater amphipod which supposedly colonized the Alps after Quaternary glaciations. We tested the dispersal and the cryptic species hypotheses within this species using a phylogeographic approach based on two mitochondrial genes (COI and 16S) and a nuclear gene (28S). Results support the view that poor dispersal is a main evolutionary factor in groundwater. All genes independently supported the existence of numerous cryptic and mostly allopatric units within N. rhenorhodanensis, indicating that its apparently wide distribution range is an artefact generated by cryptic diversity. We reject the hypothesis of a recent and global colonization of the Alps and argue that some N. rhenorhodanensis lineages probably survived glaciations near or within the Alps.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Subterranean Biology
                SB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2615
                1768-1448
                June 17 2016
                June 17 2016
                : 18
                : 49-70
                Article
                10.3897/subtbiol.18.8648
                © 2016

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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