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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53143. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053143. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Patterns of diversity, areas of endemism, and multiple glacial refuges for freshwater crabs of the genus Sinopotamon in China (Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamidae).

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  • 1Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China.


Previous research has shown that the geographical distribution patterns of freshwater fishes and amphibians have been influenced by past climatic oscillations in China resulting from Pleistocene glacial activity. However, it remains unknown how these past changes have impacted the present-day distribution of Chinese freshwater crabs. This work describes the diversity and endemism of freshwater crabs belonging to Sinopotamon, a highly speciose genus endemic to China, and evaluates its distribution in terms of topography and past climatic fluctuations. Species diversity within Sinopotamon was found to be concentrated in an area from the northeastern edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau to the Jiangnan Hills, and three areas of endemism were identified. Multiple regression analysis between current climatic variables and Sinopotamon diversity suggested that regional annual precipitation, minimum temperature in the coldest month, and annual temperature range significantly influenced species diversity and may explain the diversity patterns of Sinopotamon. A comparison of ecological niche models (ENMs) between current conditions and the last glacial maximum (LGM) showed that suitable habitat for Sinopotamon in China severely contracted during the LGM. The coincidence of ENMs and the areas of endemism indicated that southeast of the Daba Mountains, and central and southeastern China, are potential Pleistocene refuges for Sinopotamon. The presence of multiple Pleistocene refuges within the range of this genus could further promote inter- and intraspecific differentiations, and may have led to high Sinopotamon species diversity, a high endemism rate and widespread distribution.

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