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Integrative taxonomy of the groundwater amphipod Niphargus bihorensis Schellenberg, 1940 reveals a species-rich clade

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Version 2 2024-06-10, 10:56
Version 1 2024-05-21, 09:06
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-10, 10:56 authored by Fabio Stoch, Mara Knüsel, Valerija Zakšek, Roman Alther, Alice Salussolia, Florian Altermatt, Cene Fišer, Jean-François Flot

The genus Niphargus is the most diverse subterranean amphipod genus in the western Palearctic region but, owing to the presence of cryptic species and homoplasy, its taxonomy and biogeographic scenarios are complex, making molecular methods essential to understand its evolution. We conducted a study combining DNA-based taxonomy with traditional morphotaxonomy to investigate Niphargus bihorensis Schellenberg, 1940, known from the Western Alps and Carpathians. We redescribed the type material of N. bihorensis from Bihor County, Romania, and revealed the presence of a cryptic species, N. absconditus n. sp., in the same karstic area (Pădurea Craiului Mountains). Additionally, the Alpine populations previously attributed to N. bihorensis turned out to belong to a new, not so closely related species, N. tizianoi n. sp. Phylogenetic analyses based on a concatenated dataset of one mitochondrial and two nuclear markers suggest that the N. bihorensis species complex belongs to a strongly supported clade, together with several species distributed from Switzerland to Iran.

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