• allozymes;
  • Caridina zebra;
  • dispersal;
  • gene flow;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • nested clade analysis


The freshwater shrimp, Caridina zebra, is endemic to montane rainforest streams of the Atherton Tableland, north-eastern Australia. As the confluences of many of the headwater streams are in unsuitable habitat, dispersal is expected to be highly restricted. Results from a previous allozyme survey for this species suggested that historical dispersal between separate river drainages had occurred due to rearrangements of the drainage lines at some stage in the recent past. The aim of this study was to use temporal information from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (CO-I) gene to determine whether the observed genetic structure was a result of historical processes, or alternatively, due to low levels of terrestrial dispersal. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data were analysed using nested clade analysis, which can differentiate between historical fragmentation and range expansion vs. contemporary restricted gene flow. The results displayed three divergent clades that were likely to have arisen in allopatry. One widespread clade, with individuals in more than one river drainage, reflected a pattern of restricted gene flow. This suggests that this species is capable of terrestrial dispersal.