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Evolution. 2002 Jun;56(6):1123-35.

Cryptic speciation in the Anadenobolus excisus millipede species complex on the Island of Jamaica.

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  • 1Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Howell Science Complex, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA.


Anadenobolus excisus is a large species of millipede endemic to the Caribbean Island of Jamaica. Initial detailed morphological studies showed little or no discrete variation across this species' distribution in somatic or, in particular. genitalic morphology. However, a molecular survey based on approximately 1000 base pairs of the mitochondrial (mtDNA) 16S rRNA gene that examines 242 individuals sampled from 54 localities reveals three highly divergent mtDNA lineages. A lack of discrete morphological differentiation suggests that genetic and morphological divergence may be decoupled, a pattern inconsistent with a number of evolutionary models. In contrast to minimal morphological divergence, size variation among mtDNA lineages suggests that character displacement has occurred and that these lineages are cohesive in sympatry. We conclude that A. excisus is actually a complex of three cryptic species and that morphological approaches to delineating millipede species may sometimes underestimate evolutionary diversity.

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