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Re-evaluation of three related species of the genus BranchipusSchaeffer, 1766 (Branchiopoda: Anostraca) by morphological and genetic analyses

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The systematics of the genus BranchipusSchaeffer, 1766 (Branchiopoda: Anostraca) has been based on morphological taxonomy only and thus remains poorly resolved or, at best, questionable. Among the seven species described in the genus, a detailed comparison of Branchipus schaefferiFischer, 1834 with both B. pasaiCottarelli, 1969 and B. visnyaiKertész, 1956 is necessary to clarify their status. The use of morphological characters and, in particular, the appearance of second antennae and antennal appendages in males still cause taxonomic confusion among these three species. Herein, we use two molecular markers (allozymes and mtDNA sequences) and scanning electron microscopy to determine consistent differentiation patterns and test for congruence with the shape of the genus diagnostic trait, the frontal shield. We analyzed specimens belonging to 11 populations and covering a wide geographic distribution: B. pasaifrom Italy, B. schaefferifrom Spain and Morocco, and B. visnyaifrom Malta and Italy. The extent of genetic divergence among populations evaluated by allozyme variation at 13 enzymatic loci and a mtDNA marker suggests the existence of different taxa and the absence of gene flow between them. The molecular results, together with morphological observations, did not provide support for the existing subdivision in the three nominal species B. pasai, B. schaefferi, and B. visnyaiand places the validity of previously proposed taxonomic groups in discussion.

Affiliations: 1: 1Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology Department, Research and Innovation Centre – Fondazione Edmund Mach, Via E. Mach 1, I-38010 San Michele a/Adige, Trento, Italy; 2: 2Department of Biosciences, University of Parma, Via G.P. Usberti 11/A, I-43124, Parma, Italy; 3: 3Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Via A. Valerio 28, I-34127, Trieste, Italy

10.1163/1937240X-00002382
/content/journals/10.1163/1937240x-00002382
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