Reconstructing the colonisation and diversification history of the endemic freshwater crab (Seychellum alluaudi) in the granitic and volcanic Seychelles Archipelago

13 Oct 2011

The endemic, monotypic freshwater crab species Seychellum alluaudi was used as a template to examine the initial colonisation and evolutionary history among the major islands in the Seychelles Archipelago. Five of the " inner" islands in the Seychelles Archipelago including Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette, La Digue and Frégate were sampled. Two partial mtDNA fragments, 16S rRNA and cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) was sequenced for 83 specimens of S. alluaudi. Evolutionary relationships between populations were inferred from the combined mtDNA dataset using maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inferences. Analyses of molecular variance (AMOVA) were used to examine genetic variation among and within clades. A haplotype network was constructed using TCS while BEAST was employed to date the colonisation and divergence of lineages on the islands. Phylogenetic analyses of the combined mtDNA data set of 1103 base pairs retrieved a monophyletic S. alluaudi group comprised three statistically well-supported monophyletic clades. Clade one was exclusive to Silhouette; clade two included samples from Praslin sister to La Digue, while clade three comprised samples from Mahé sister to Frégate. The haplotype network corresponded to the three clades. Within Mahé, substantial phylogeographic substructure was evident. AMOVA results revealed limited genetic variation within localities with most variation occurring among localities. Divergence time estimations predated the Holocene sea level regressions and indicated a Pliocene/Pleistocene divergence between the three clades evident within S. alluaudi. The monophyly of each clade suggests that transoceanic dispersal is rare. The absence of shared haplotypes between the three clades, coupled with marked sequence divergence values suggests the presence of three allospecies within S. alluaudi. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.