Harvestmen Evolution on Southwestern Sky Islands

A manuscript authored by prior MS student Shahan Derkarabetian, collaborator Joel Ledford, and myself has made it to the “Articles in Press” section at Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution.

The research described reveals extreme mitochondrial genetic structuring in montane populations of the harvestmen species Sclerobunus robustus. Nuclear gene tree data are sparse (only available for EF1alpha), but similarly suggest ample phylogeographic structuring within this taxon.

Sclerobunus robustus robustus from Colorado

Surprisingly, despite the fact that montane populations are clearly geographically isolated and highly genetically divergent, our survey of male genitalia revealed minimal morphological divergence amongst populations.  Perhaps morphological differences have evolved, and we’ve not yet discovered these? Perhaps speciation is happening without coincident morphological change?  A robust nuclear genomic perspective could be very revealing, facilitated by recently generated Illumina short-read data..

Habitat - Sclerobunus are reasonably common under downed wood in shaded conifer forests of AZ, NM and CO

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About marshalhedin

University Professor, teaching college students about biological diversity & evolution, conducting original research in the realm of arachnid systematics
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