The protection of freshwater biodiversity has become a priority task for conservation practices, as freshwater ecosystems host high levels of cryptic diversity, while also record similarly high rates of extinction. The Italian white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius italicus is an endemic freshwater crustacean, threatened by several anthropogenic impacts such as habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasion of exotics, and climate change. Previous phylogenetic studies conducted in Italy pointed out a complex phylogeographic framework for the species, with four different subspecies currently recognized. Conservation efforts, particularly when involving restocking and reintroduction, require a detailed knowledge of their population genetics. In this study we describe the genetic structure of A. italicus populations in northern Italy (Lombardy Alpine foothills and northern Apennines) by using the informative mitochondrial marker cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, in order to assess their current evolutionary diversity and past phylogeographic history from a conservation perspective. Our results contribute to the mapping of the contact area among A. i. carsicus and A. i. carinthiacus in the Orobie Larian Prealps. More interestingly, we highlight the existence of two deeply differentiated evolutionary lineages within A. i. carsicus, showing alternative phylogeographic patterns and past demographic trends. We propose to consider these two clades as distinct molecular operational taxonomic units for the conservation of this endangered crayfish.

Complexity of biogeographic pattern in the endangered crayfish Austropotamobius italicus in northern Italy: molecular insights of conservation concern

BERNINI, GUIDO PIETRO;BELLATI, ADRIANA;GHIA, DANIELA;FEA, GIANLUCA;SACCHI, ROBERTO;NARDI, PIETRO ANGELO;FASOLA, MAURO;GALEOTTI, PAOLO
2016-01-01

Abstract

The protection of freshwater biodiversity has become a priority task for conservation practices, as freshwater ecosystems host high levels of cryptic diversity, while also record similarly high rates of extinction. The Italian white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius italicus is an endemic freshwater crustacean, threatened by several anthropogenic impacts such as habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasion of exotics, and climate change. Previous phylogenetic studies conducted in Italy pointed out a complex phylogeographic framework for the species, with four different subspecies currently recognized. Conservation efforts, particularly when involving restocking and reintroduction, require a detailed knowledge of their population genetics. In this study we describe the genetic structure of A. italicus populations in northern Italy (Lombardy Alpine foothills and northern Apennines) by using the informative mitochondrial marker cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, in order to assess their current evolutionary diversity and past phylogeographic history from a conservation perspective. Our results contribute to the mapping of the contact area among A. i. carsicus and A. i. carinthiacus in the Orobie Larian Prealps. More interestingly, we highlight the existence of two deeply differentiated evolutionary lineages within A. i. carsicus, showing alternative phylogeographic patterns and past demographic trends. We propose to consider these two clades as distinct molecular operational taxonomic units for the conservation of this endangered crayfish.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1100577
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