Glacial refugia, haplotype distributions, and clonal richness of the Daphnia pulex complex in arctic Canada


Lawrence J. Weider. E-mail:


As part of a large international Arctic biodiversity expedition (Tundra Northwest ′99), we examined the distribution of members of the arctic Daphnia pulex complex (Cladocera, Anomopoda) from 121 tundra ponds, spread across 16 sites spanning a large portion of arctic Canada (i.e. from 62°22′ N to 79°01′ N; 66°45′ W to 139°37′ W). Using allozyme electrophoresis and mitochondrial (mt)DNA analyses, we examined the population genetic (clonal) structure of these populations. The following taxa were detected in this complex: Daphnia pulicaria, D. middendorffiana and D. tenebrosa. Clear geographical differences in mean clonal richness and diversity were observed, with most western sites exhibiting higher clonal richness and diversity, than sites in the eastern Canadian Arctic. For both the pulicaria group (i.e. D. pulicaria and D. middendorffiana) and D. tenebrosa, the highest mean regional clonal richness was detected from the southern section of Banks Island, an unglaciated site situated on the edge or directly in the eastern fringe of the Beringian glacial refuge. A significant negative correlation was found between geographical distance from the Beringian edge, and overall regional clonal richness (i.e. sites closer to the edge harboured greater clonal richness). These results clearly indicate that more recently deglaciated regions (i.e. eastern Canadian Arctic) harbour lower levels of clonal richness than western regions nearer Beringia. We discuss the role that glacial refugia have played in influencing both biotic and genetic diversity in arctic taxa.