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Gondwanan radiation of the Southern Hemisphere crayfishes (Decapoda: Parastacidae): evidence from fossils and molecules

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Abstract Aim 

The sequential break-up of Gondwana is thought to be a dominant process in the establishment of shared biota across landmasses of the Southern Hemisphere. Yet similar distributions are shared by taxa whose radiations clearly post-date the Gondwanan break-up. Thus, determining the contribution of vicariance versus dispersal to seemingly Gondwanan biota is complex. The southern freshwater crayfishes (family Parastacidae) are distributed on Australia and New Guinea, South America, Madagascar and New Zealand and are unlikely to have dispersed via oceans, owing to strict freshwater limitations. We test the hypotheses that the break-up of Gondwana has led to (1) a predominately east–west (((Australia, New Zealand: 80 Ma) Madagascar: 160–121 Ma) South America: 165–140 Ma), or (2) a southern (((Australia, South America: 52–35 Ma) New Zealand: 80 Ma) Madagascar: 160–121 Ma) pattern for parastacid crayfish. Further, we examine the evidence for a complete drowning of New Zealand and subsequent colonization by freshwater crayfish. Location 

Southern Hemisphere. Methods 

The evolutionary relationships among the 15 genera of Parastacidae were reconstructed using mitochondrial [16S, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI)] and nuclear (18S, 28S) sequence data and maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods of phylogenetic reconstruction. A Bayesian (multidivtime) molecular dating method using six fossil calibrations and phylogenetic inference was used to estimate divergence time among crayfish clades on Gondwanan landmasses. Results 

The South American crayfish are monophyletic and a sister group to all other southern crayfish. Australian crayfish are not monophyletic, with two Tasmanian genera, Spinastacoides and Ombrastacoides, forming a clade with New Zealand and Malagasy crayfish (both monophyletic). Divergence of crayfish among southern landmasses is estimated to have occurred around the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous (109–178 Ma). Main conclusions 

The estimated phylogenetic relationships and time of divergence among the Southern Hemisphere crayfishes were consistent with an east–west pattern of Gondwanan divergence. The divergence between Australia and New Zealand (109–160 Ma) pre-dated the rifting at around 80 Ma, suggesting that these lineages were established prior to the break-up. Owing to the age of the New Zealand crayfish, we reject the hypothesis that there was a complete drowning of New Zealand crayfish habitat.

Keywords: Continental drift; Gondwana; Parastacidae; fossil calibration; historical biogeography; multidivtime; phylogenetics; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal 2: Department of Geology, Kent State University Stark Campus, 6000 Frank Ave NW, North Canton, OH 44720, USA 3: Department of Geology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA 4: Department of Biology, Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2010


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