n African Zoology - Genetic differentiation in Chamberlin (Arachnida : Pseudoscorpiones : Olpiidae) as indicated by mitochondrial DNA analysis

Volume 48, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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is an olpiid pseudoscorpion of which nine species have been described from southern Africa; a tenth, debatable species was described from the Ivory Coast. The two most widely distributed species are and , the former occurring especially in the west and the other in the east, but their distributions overlap; in two instances they have been recorded from the same site. All species have a preference for rock outcrops, which are largely disjunct, and their regular prey comprises small ant species. Fieldwork over a period of 15 years indicated a very low dispersal rate; therefore one would expect localized 'island' populations rather than widely dispersed species. This means that the current species delimitations which lump geographically widespread populations may be incorrect. Mitochondrial DNA of specimens from each of 20 different localities across South Africa were analysed to test the hypothesis. Five of these localities did not yield results, but 14 yielded DNA from specimens which proved to belong to and a fifteenth turned out to be a misidentified pseudoscorpion unrelated to . The results were unequivocal: populations from each locality or group of closely-spaced localities were genetically distinct from any other one tested, and the greater the distance between localities, the greater the genetic differences (i.e. significant isolation by distance). This means that the current species delimitations for are incorrect. It will require detailed micro-anatomical study to identify new characteristics on which species delimitations can be based in future.

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