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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Phylogeny and phylogeography of cave fauna based on model taxa

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   

Code Science Field
B320  Biomedical sciences  Systematic zoology, taxonomy, zoogeopraphy 
Keywords
molecular phylogenetics, phylogeography, karst, caves, glacial refugia, ASellus, Niphargus, Leptodirus, Monolistra
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (2)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  00206  PhD Boris Sket  Biology  Head  2004 - 2006  586 
2.  16381  PhD Nada Žnidaršič  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2006  239 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,273 
Abstract
The karstic subterranean environment offers similar options for the study of evolutionary and speciation processes as islands. Whereas islands, starting with Darwin's Galapagos, have become a core geographical model of evolutionary studies, caves have long been neglected. Patterns of biodiversity generation - through vicariance or dispersion - remain largely unstudied in subterranean habitats. As our group and other researches have recently shown, the Dinaric karst area has the richest cave fauna in the World. It is characterized, together with other karstic areas, by high numbers of endemics, unmatched by other parts of continental Europe. Aquatic subterranean fauna is an important indicator of the purity of groundwater in karstic regions. However, the usefulness of cave fauna as biodiversity and environmental indicators is highly limited because of its unclear taxonomy and biogeography. The project is based on a molecular phylogenetic and phylogeographic analysis of four representative groups of cave fauna: the ubiquitous water lice, (Asellus aquaticus), the subterranean amphipod genus Niphargus, the subterranean beetle taxon Leptodirinae, and Monolistra, a genus of aquatic cave isopods. With the help of these model taxa, the aim of the project is to: (1) find plausible phylogenetic and phylogeographic explanations for the origin and diversity of subterranean fauna; (2) find a coherent pattern of glacial refugees and postglacial colonization routes for groups with subterranean and surface representatives; (3) use molecular clock rate estimates for the dating of paleogeographic events which formed the basis for the phylogenetic splits and speciation; (4) propose necessary taxonomic changes based on the molecular phylogenetic hypotheses, and to improve our biogeographic knowledge on these taxa.
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