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Deep molecular divergence in the absence of morphological and ecological change in the Californian coastal dune endemic trapdoor spider Aptostichus simus


Jason E. Bond. Fax: (312) 665 7754;


Aptostichus simus is a trapdoor spider endemic to the coastal dunes of central and southern California and, on morphological grounds, is recognized as a single species. Mitochondrial DNA 16S rRNA sequences demonstrate that most populations are fixed for the same haplotype and that the population haplotypes from San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Santa Rosa Island, and Monterey County are extremely divergent (6–12%), with estimated separation times ranging from 2 to 6 million years. A statistical cluster analysis of morphological features demonstrates that this genetic divergence is not reflected in anatomical features that might signify ecological differentiation among these lineages. The species status of these divergent populations of A. simus depends upon the species concept utilized. If a time-limited genealogical perspective is employed, A. simus would be separated at the base into two genetically distinct species. This study suggests that species concepts based on morphological distinctiveness, in spider groups with limited dispersal capabilities, probably underestimate true evolutionary diversity.

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