Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Contrasting the population genetic structure of two velvet worm taxa (Onychophora : Peripatopsidae : Peripatopsis) in forest fragments along the south-eastern Cape, South Africa

Savel R. Daniels A C , Megan Dreyer A and Prashant P. Sharma B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch, 7602, South Africa.

B Department of Zoology, University of Wisconson – Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: srd@sun.ac.za

Invertebrate Systematics 31(6) 781-796 https://doi.org/10.1071/IS16085
Submitted: 15 December 2016  Accepted: 11 May 2017   Published: 4 December 2017

Abstract

During the present study, we examined the phylogeography and systematics of two species of velvet worm (Peripatopsis Pocock, 1894) in the forested region of the southern Cape of South Africa. A total of 89 P. moseleyi (Wood-Mason, 1879) and 65 P. sedgwicki (Purcell, 1899) specimens were collected and sequenced for the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I mtDNA (COI). In addition, a single P. sedgwicki specimen per sample locality was sequenced for the 18S rRNA locus. Furthermore, morphological variation among P. sedgwicki sample localities were explored using traditional alpha taxonomic characters. DNA sequence data were subjected to phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference and population genetic analyses using haplotype networks and analyses of molecular variance (AMOVAs). Phylogenetic results revealed the presence of four and three clades within P. moseleyi and P. sedgwicki respectively. Haplotype networks were characterised by the absence of shared haplotypes between clades, suggesting genetic isolation, a result corroborated by the AMOVA and highly significant FST values. Specimens from Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve were both genetically and morphologically distinct from the two remaining P. sedgwicki clades. The latter result suggests the presence of a novel lineage nested within P. sedgwicki and suggests that species boundaries within this taxon require re-examination.

Additional keywords: conservation, forest fragmentation, speciation.


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