07 September, 2016

Phylogeography and population structure of two Brachistosternus species from Chile

Sara Ceccarelli and co-workers have recently published an article looking into the phylogeography and population structure of two species of Brachistosternus Pocock, 1893 (Bothriuridae) from costal deserts of Chile.

Coastal deserts are geologically dynamic areas of the Earth, affected by historical changes in sea levels and in some cases also by fault-line tectonic activity. An example of such a dynamic area is the Chilean coastal desert of the Antofagasta and Atacama regions, which harbours many endemic species, such as the bothriurid scorpion species Brachistosternus paposo and Brachistosternus roigalsinai. In this work, we carry out phylogeographic and population genetic analyses on these scorpions, using two mitochondrial (COI and cyt b) and two nuclear (Actin 5C and wingless) markers to identify species and population structuring, and link these findings to the geological history of the area. The geographical feature separating the two species is identified as the Huasco River, and distinguishing morphological features for these scorpions are presented. Population genetic and phylogeographic outcomes reflect an unstable history across this region for B. paposo and B. roigalsinai, related to sea-level changes affecting coastal habitats, including nearby islands.

Ceccarelli FS, Pizarro‐Araya J, Ojanguren‐Affilastro AA. Phylogeography and population structure of two Brachistosternus species (Scorpiones: Bothriuridae) from the Chilean coastal desert–the perils of coastal living. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2016;Early View Article. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andres Ojanguren-Afillastro for sending me this article!

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