Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Geographic patterns of genetic diversity in subterranean amphipods of the Pilbara, Western Australia

Terrie L. Finston A B and Michael S. Johnson A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The University of Western Australia, School of Animal Biology M092, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 55(6) 619-628
Submitted: 12 February 2004  Accepted: 7 June 2004   Published: 14 September 2004


Twenty-six species of subterranean amphipods have been described from the Pilbara, Western Australia, based on variation in morphological characters. Many are known only from single bores. The Pilbara is rich in iron ore, and thus, an understanding of species’ diversity and their distribution is necessary both to manage resources and to conserve fauna. A previous allozyme study of nine bores in a single catchment in the Pilbara found low levels of genetic differentiation among individuals, but the diversity was not associated with single bores. The area studied appeared to contain a single widespread species common to all nine bores, in sympatry with a second, rare species, represented by a single specimen. The present study analysed allozymic variation in amphipods from 26 bores in four additional catchments in the Pilbara, to test the generality of these findings. At each site, samples with similar allelic arrays were found in multiple bores, in sympatry with rare divergent genotypes. Geological complexity was associated with increased genetic differentiation over short geographical distances. With few exceptions, each catchment contained a unique suite of species, suggesting that catchments may form hydrological barriers to gene flow, resulting in local speciation events.

Extra keywords: biodiversity, conservation, stygofauna.


Funding for this project was provided by BHP-Billiton Pty Ltd, and Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd. John Bradbury provided some of the taxonomic identifications. Stuart Anstee, Kyle Armstrong, Piers Higgs, Garth Humphreys, Emma Jones, David Kaljuste, Jason Pepper and Paul West assisted with field collections, and Stuart Anstee, Murray Eagle, Peter Landman, and David Porterfield provided logistical support at the mine sites. Doug Brown and Jason Pepper provided discussion and insight into the hydrogeology at Spearhole Creek. The manuscript was improved by comments from John Bradbury, Stuart Halse and Bill Humphreys.


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