Spatial Distribution of Cryptic Species Diversity in European Freshwater Amphipods (Gammarus fossarum) as Revealed by Pyrosequencing

Westram, Anja Marie; Jokela, Jukka; Baumgartner, Caroline; Keller, Irene; Steinke, Dirk (2011). Spatial Distribution of Cryptic Species Diversity in European Freshwater Amphipods (Gammarus fossarum) as Revealed by Pyrosequencing. PLoS ONE, 6(8), e23879. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0023879

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In order to understand and protect ecosystems, local gene pools need to be evaluated with respect to their uniqueness. Cryptic species present a challenge in this context because their presence, if unrecognized, may lead to serious misjudgement of the distribution of evolutionarily distinct genetic entities. In this study, we describe the current geographical distribution of cryptic species of the ecologically important stream amphipod Gammarus fossarum (types A, B and C). We use a novel pyrosequencing assay for molecular species identification and survey 62 populations in Switzerland, plus several populations in Germany and eastern France. In addition, we compile data from previous publications (mainly Germany). A clear transition is observed from type A in the east (Danube and Po drainages) to types B and, more rarely, C in the west (Meuse, Rhone, and four smaller French river systems). Within the Rhine drainage, the cryptic species meet in a contact zone which spans the entire G. fossarum distribution range from north to south. This large-scale geographical sorting indicates that types A and B persisted in separate refugia during Pleistocene glaciations. Within the contact zone, the species rarely co-occur at the same site, suggesting that ecological processes may preclude long-term coexistence. The clear phylogeographical signal observed in this study implies that, in many parts of Europe, only one of the cryptic species is present.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Keller, Irene


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Public Library of Science




Marcel Häsler

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 16:08

Last Modified:

07 Dec 2014 02:40

Publisher DOI:





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