Extreme genetic diversity among springtails (Collembola) in subterranean calcretes of arid australia

Michelle T. Guzik, Mark I. Stevens, Steven J.B. Cooper, William F. Humphreys, Andrew D. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The subterranean islands hypothesis for calcretes of the Yilgarn region in Western Australia applies to many stygobitic (subterranean–aquatic) species that are “trapped” evolutionarily within isolated aquifers due to their aquatic lifestyles. In contrast, little is known about the distribution of terrestrial–subterranean invertebrates associated with the calcretes. We used subterranean Collembola from the Yilgarn calcretes to test the hypothesis that troglobitic species, those inhabiting the subterranean unsaturated (non-aquatic) zone of calcretes, are also restricted in their distribution and represent reciprocally monophyletic and endemic lineages. We used the barcoding fragment of the mtDNA cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene from 183 individuals to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of the genus Pseudosinella Schäffer (Collembola, Lepidocyrtidae) from 10 calcretes in the Yilgarn. These calcretes represent less than 5% of the total possible calcretes in this region, yet we show that their diversity for subterranean Collembola comprises a minimum of 25 new species. Regionally, multiple levels of diversity exist in Pseudosinella, indicative of a complex evolutionary history for this genus in the Yilgarn. These species have probably been impacted by climatic oscillations, facilitating their dispersal across the landscape. The results represent a small proportion of the undiscovered diversity in Australia’s arid zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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