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Phylogenetic relationships among the Canary Island Steganacaridae (Acari, Oribatida) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence data


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The mite genus Steganacarus is represented in the Canary Islands by three endemic species, one recently discovered species, and several morphotypes of uncertain taxonomic position. We used a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among representatives of the different taxa from the three central islands of the archipelago, Tenerife, La Gomera and Gran Canaria. Sequence data were analysed by both maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood methods. The inferred phylogenetic relationships do not correlate well with current morphological taxonomy but reveal four deeply divergent and geographically coherent lineages, one each on Gran Canaria and La Gomera and two on Tenerife. No pattern of molecular differentiation was observed among different morphotypes. Possible explanations for this incongruence are suggested in relation to the ecology and biogeography of the group. A recently discovered Steganacarus species from La Gomera, morphologically quite distinct from the other Canarian Steganacarus, is clearly identified as a taxon distantly related to all the other Canarian samples.

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