Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 6, pp 1265–1275 | Cite as

A tropical/subtropical biogeographic disjunction in southeastern Africa separates two Evolutionarily Significant Units of an estuarine prawn

  • P. R. TeskeEmail author
  • H. Winker
  • C. D. McQuaid
  • N. P. Barker
Original Paper


Recent phylogeographic research has indicated that biodiversity in the sea may be considerably greater than previously thought. However, the majority of phylogeographic studies on marine invertebrates have exclusively used a single locus (mitochondrial DNA), and it is questionable whether the phylogroups identified can be considered distinct species. We tested whether the mtDNA phylogroups of the southern African sandprawn Callianassa kraussi Stebbing (Decapoda: Thalassinidea) are also recovered using nuclear sequence data. Four mtDNA phylogroups were recovered that were each associated with one of South Africa’s four major biogeographic provinces. Three of these were poorly differentiated, but the fourth (tropical) group was highly distinct. The nuclear phylogeny recovered two major clades, one present in the tropical region and the other in the remainder of South Africa. Congruence between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA indicates that the species comprises two Evolutionarily Significant Units sensu Moritz (1994). In conjunction with physiological data from C. kraussi and morphological, ecological and physiological data from other species, this result supports the notion that at least some of the mtDNA phylogroups of coastal invertebrates whose distributions are limited by biogeographic disjunctions can indeed be considered to be cryptic species.


Phylogeographic Pattern Restricted Gene Flow Biogeographic Province Phylogeographic Break High Dispersal Potential 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This is a contribution from the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP). We are grateful to Brent Newman, Paul Cowley and Isabelle Papadopoulos for providing samples, to Joanne Palmer for generating COI sequences for the isolation-by-distance analysis and to George Branch for information concerning the distribution range of Callianassa kraussi. Three anonymous referees are thanked for comments that considerably improved the quality of this manuscript. This study was supported by postdoctoral research fellowships from the Claude Harris Leon Foundation and the NRF awarded to PRT, an overseas study grant from the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust awarded to PRT, the National Research Foundation (GUN 2069119 to NPB) and Rhodes University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. R. Teske
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • H. Winker
    • 3
  • C. D. McQuaid
    • 4
  • N. P. Barker
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular Ecology and Systematics Group, Department of BotanyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Molecular Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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