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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Aug;40(2):370-82. Epub 2006 May 2.

Molecular systematics and phylogeography of the cryptic species complex Baetis rhodani (Ephemeroptera, Baetidae).

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Biodiversity and Ecological Processes Group, Main Building, University of Wales Cardiff, Cardiff CF10 3TL, UK.


Genetic studies have highlighted cryptic diversity in many well-known taxa including aquatic insects, with the general implication that there are more species than are currently recognised. Baetis rhodani Pictet are among the most widespread, abundant and ecologically important of all European mayflies (Ephemeroptera), and used widely as biological indicators of stream quality. Traditional taxonomy and systematics have never fully resolved differences among suspected cryptic species in the B. rhodani complex because morphological characters alone do not allow reliable distinction. This is particularly true among larvae, the life-stage used most widely in monitoring. Here, we assess the molecular diversity of this complex in one of the largest such studies of cryptic species in the order Ephemeroptera to date. Phylogenies were constructed using data from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. Two monophyletic groups were recovered consisting of one major haplogroup and a second clade of 6 smaller but distinct haplogroups. Haplogroup divergence ranged from 0.2-3% (within) to 8-19% (among) with the latter values surpassing maxima typically reported for other insects, and provides strong evidence for cryptic species in the B. rhodani complex. The taxonomic status of these seven haplogroups remains undefined. Their distributions across Western Europe reveal no obvious geographic pattern, suggesting widespread diffusion of genetic lineages since the last glacial maximum. The implications of these findings are far-reaching given the ecological and bioindicator significance of what now appears to be several taxa.

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