Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

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

Savel Daniels , Megan Dreyer , Prashant Sharma


During the present study, we examined the phylogeography and systematics of two velvet worm species (Peripatopsis) in the forested region of the southern Cape of South Africa. A total of 89 P. moseleyi and 65 P. sedgwicki 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 (AMOVA’s). 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 suggest that species boundaries within this taxon require re-examination.

IS16085  Accepted 11 May 2017

© CSIRO 2017