Pleistocene-driven diversification in freshwater zooplankton: Genetic patterns of refugial isolation and postglacial recolonization in Leptodora kindtii (Crustacea, Cladocera)

Katie L. Millette, Sen Xu, Jonathan D. S. Witt and Melania E. Cristescu

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(5), 2011, 1725-1736 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.5.1725

ABSTRACT: In this study we investigate the extent to which successive range fragmentations, postglacial expansions, and recolonizations influenced intraspecific genetic diversity and patterns of diversification in freshwater zooplankton. Specifically, we explore the global phylogeography of the Holarctic predatory cladoceran Leptodora kindtii Focke, 1844. Phylogenetic analyses based on the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I recover seven deeply divergent lineages (11.8–20.0%) comprising two sister clades within the Nearctic and east Palearctic and three related clades within the west Palearctic. Strong continental endemism was also supported by the nuclear 18S ribosomal gene. Intra-continental divergence levels (< 6%) suggest that many speciation events in Leptodora were initiated by glacial isolation. Demographic and network analyses indicate that in the Nearctic and west Palearctic, regions heavily affected by the Pleistocene glaciations, Leptodora persisted in both classic (e.g., Cascadia, Mississippi, southern Europe) and cryptic refugia (e.g., northeastern Europe, Carpathian basin). Strong signatures of late Pleistocene range expansions and secondary contact were observed in most clades. Deeper intraspecific phylogeographic structure occurs across much finer geographic scales in unglaciated regions of the east Palearctic than across glaciated Nearctic and west Palearctic regions. Leptodora's ecological and biological characteristics, such as a reliance on temperate, permanent lakes, weak dispersal ability, and specific geological settings likely shaped the complex pattern of diversification in this important planktonic predator. Our data suggest the Pleistocene glaciations were important in the diversification of Holarctic freshwater zooplankton.

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