Looking beneath the tip of the iceberg : diversification of the genus Epimeria on the Antarctic shelf (Crustacea, Amphipoda)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Polar biology. - New York
, p. 925-945
University of Antwerp
The amphipod genus Epimeria is very speciose in Antarctic waters. Although their brooding biology, massive and heavily calcified body predict low dispersal capabilities, many Epimeria species are documented to have circum-Antarctic distributions. However, these distribution records are inevitably dependent on the morphological species definition. Yet, recent DNA evidence suggests that some of these Epimeria species may be complexes of species with restricted distributions. Mitochondrial COI and nuclear 28S rDNA sequence data were used to infer evolutionary relationships among 16 nominal Epimeria species from the Antarctic Peninsula, the eastern Weddell Sea and the Ad,lie Coast. Based on this phylogenetic framework, we used morphology and the DNA-based methods GMYC, bPTP and BPP to investigate species boundaries, in order to revise the diversity and distribution patterns within the genus. Most of the studied species appeared to be complexes of pseudocryptic species, presenting small and previously overlooked morphological differences. Altogether, 25 lineages were identified as putative new species, increasing twofold the actual number of Antarctic Epimeria species. Whereas most of the species may be geographically restricted to one of the three studied regions, some still have very wide distribution ranges, hence suggesting a potential for large-scale dispersal.