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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017 / Locked in the icehouse: Evolution of an endemic Epimeria (Amphipoda, Crustacea) species flock on the Antarctic shelf

Marie L. Verheye, Thierry Backeljau and Cédric d'Udekem d'Acoz (2017)

Locked in the icehouse: Evolution of an endemic Epimeria (Amphipoda, Crustacea) species flock on the Antarctic shelf

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 114:14-33.

The Antarctic shelf’s marine biodiversity has been greatly influenced by the climatic and glacial history of the region. Extreme temperature changes led to the extinction of some lineages, while others adapted and flourished. The amphipod genus Epimeria is an example of the latter, being particularly diverse in the Antarctic region. By reconstructing a time-calibrated phylogeny based on mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (28S and H3) markers and including Epimeria species from all oceans, this study provides a temporal and geographical framework for the evolution of Antarctic Epimeria. The monophyly of this genus is not supported by Bayesian Inference, as Antarctic and non-Antarctic Epimeria form two distinct wellsupported clades, with Antarctic Epimeria being a sister clade to two stilipedid species. The monophyly of Antarctic Epimeria suggests that this clade evolved in isolation since its origin. While the precise timing of this origin remains unclear, it is inferred that the Antarctic lineage arose from a late Gondwanan ancestor and hence did not colonize the Antarctic region after the continent broke apart from the other fragments of Gondwanaland. The initial diversification of the clade occurred 38.04 Ma (95% HPD [48.46 Ma; 28.36 Ma]) in a cooling environment. Adaptation to cold waters, along with the extinction of cold-intolerant taxa and resulting ecological opportunities, likely led to the successful diversification of Epimeria on the Antarctic shelf. However, there was neither evidence of a rapid lineage diversification early in the clade’s history, nor of any shifts in diversification rates induced by glacial cycles. This suggests that a high turnover rate on the repeatedly scoured Antarctic shelf could have masked potential signals of diversification bursts.
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