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      VIEWPOINT. Is the Australian subterranean fauna uniquely diverse?

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          The future of biodiversity.

          Recent extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times their pre-human levels in well-known, but taxonomically diverse groups from widely different environments. If all species currently deemed "threatened" become extinct in the next century, then future extinction rates will be 10 times recent rates. Some threatened species will survive the century, but many species not now threatened will succumb. Regions rich in species found only within them (endemics) dominate the global patterns of extinction. Although new technology provides details of habitat losses, estimates of future extinctions are hampered by our limited knowledge of which areas are rich in endemics.
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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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              Evolution in caves: Darwin's 'wrecks of ancient life' in the molecular era.

              Cave animals have historically attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists because of their bizarre 'regressive' characters and convergent evolution. However, understanding of their biogeographic and evolutionary history, including mechanisms of speciation, has remained elusive. In the last decade, molecular data have been obtained for subterranean taxa and their surface relatives, which have allowed some of the classical debates on the evolution of cave fauna to be revisited. Here, we review some of the major studies, focusing on the contribution of phylogeography in the following areas: biogeographic history and the relative roles of dispersal and vicariance, colonization history, cryptic species diversity and modes of speciation of cave animals. We further consider the limitations of current research and prospects for the future. Phylogeographic studies have confirmed that cave species are often cryptic, with highly restricted distributions, but have also shown that their divergence and potential speciation may occur despite the presence of gene flow from surface populations. Significantly, phylogeographic studies have provided evidence for speciation and adaptive evolution within the confines of cave environments, questioning the assumption that cave species evolved directly from surface ancestors. Recent technical developments involving 'next generation' DNA sequencing and theoretical developments in coalescent and population modelling are likely to revolutionize the field further, particularly in the study of speciation and the genetic basis of adaptation and convergent evolution within subterranean habitats. In summary, phylogeographic studies have provided an unprecedented insight into the evolution of these unique fauna, and the future of the field should be inspiring and data rich. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Invertebrate Systematics
                Invert. Systematics
                CSIRO Publishing
                1445-5226
                2010
                2010
                : 24
                : 5
                : 407
                Article
                10.1071/IS10038
                © 2010
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