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A revision of the higher taxonomy of the Afrotropical freshwater crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura) with a discussion of their biogeography

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The higher taxonomy of the 20 known genera of Afrotropical freshwater crabs is revised to reflect the evolutionary relationships revealed by the consensus of a series of recent morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies of the group. The Afrotropical freshwater crab genera fall into two monophyletic groups, one from Socotra with two genera (Potamidae) and another that includes the remaining 18 genera. The latter group, which includes the bulk of the region's freshwater crab fauna, forms a well-supported monophyletic clade. We recognize two monophyletic sister groups (subfamilies) within the Potamonautidae, one for seven genera from Africa (the Potamonautinae) and one for 11 genera from Africa, the Seychelles, and Madagascar (the Deckeniinae). The Deckeniinae includes two monophyletic groups (tribes), one with seven genera from Madagascar (the Hydrothelphusini), and one with four genera from Africa and the Seychelles (the Deckeniini). The Deckeniini is further divided here into two subtribes, the Deckeniina and the Globonautina. The Platythelphusidae is not recognized, and the Deckeniidae and Globonautinae are lowered in rank. There is no phylogenetic support for the continued inclusion of any genus from the Afrotropical region in the Gecarcinucidae which is treated here as an exclusively Oriental family. The Afrotropical freshwater crabs (excluding those from Socotra) form a monophyletic assemblage that has no representatives outside of the region. The wider biogeographical implications of the taxonomic revision are discussed. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 93, 399–413.
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Keywords: Deckeniina; Deckeniinae; Deckeniini; Gecarcinucidae; Gecarcinucoidea; Globonautina; Hydrothelphusini; Potamoidea; Potamonautidae; Potamonautinae

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Northern Michigan University, 1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855, USA 2: National Center for Biotechnology Information − GenBank Building 45, Room 6AN.18D-30, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA 3: Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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