Animals; Astacoidea; DNA, Mitochondrial; Ecosystem; Evolution, Molecular; Fresh Water; Phylogeny; Polymerase Chain Reaction
BACKGROUND: The genus Cambarus is one of three most species rich crayfish genera in the Northern Hemisphere. The genus has its center of diversity in the Southern Appalachians of the United States and has been divided into 12 subgenera. Using Cambarus we test the correspondence of subgeneric designations based on morphology used in traditional crayfish taxonomy to the underlying evolutionary history for these crayfish. We further test for significant correlation and explanatory power of geographic distance, taxonomic model, and a habitat model to estimated phylogenetic distance with multiple variable regression.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We use three mitochondrial and one nuclear gene regions to estimate the phylogenetic relationships for species within the genus Cambarus and test evolutionary hypotheses of relationships and associated morphological and biogeographical hypotheses. Our resulting phylogeny indicates that the genus Cambarus is polyphyletic, however we fail to reject the monophyly of Cambarus with a topology test. The majority of the Cambarus subgenera are rejected as monophyletic, suggesting the morphological characters used to define those taxa are subject to convergent evolution. While we found incongruence between taxonomy and estimated phylogenetic relationships, a multiple model regression analysis indicates that taxonomy had more explanatory power of genetic relationships than either habitat or geographic distance.
CONCLUSIONS: We find convergent evolution has impacted the morphological features used to delimit Cambarus subgenera. Studies of the crayfish genus Orconectes have shown gonopod morphology used to delimit subgenera is also affected by convergent evolution. This suggests that morphological diagnoses based on traditional crayfish taxonomy might be confounded by convergent evolution across the cambarids and has little utility in diagnosing relationships or defining natural groups. We further suggest that convergent morphological evolution appears to be a common occurrence in invertebrates suggesting the need for careful phylogenetically based interpretations of morphological evolution in invertebrate systematics.
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Breinholt, J., Porter, M., & Crandall, K. (2012). Testing phylogenetic hypotheses of the subgenera of the freshwater crayfish genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae).. PLoS One, 7 (9). http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046105