• cytochrome oxidase I;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • montane;
  • population structure;
  • Trichoptera


1. In this study, we compared mitochondrial sequence data (cytochrome oxidase I) to infer the population structure of the two montane caddisflies Hydropsyche tenuis and Drusus discolor. The two species are contrasting examples of montane aquatic insects with insular distributions: D. discolor is restricted to altitudes above 600 m, H. tenuis is limited to the same mountain ranges in Central Europe but inhabits lower altitudes.

2. In particular, we ask whether these two species with similar regional distributions show similar patterns of population structure and haplotype diversity, and whether any differences can be attributed to population history and/or autecology.

3. To determine the population structure of both species, we applied conventional population genetics analyses to mitochondrial sequence data. We collected and sampled 121 specimens of H. tenuis from 29 sites in 10 different regions of the Central European highlands and 138 individuals of D. discolor from 40 sites in 11 different regions.

4. Nine unique haplotypes were identified for H. tenuis and 34 for D. discolor. There were eight variable positions in H. tenuis and 41 in D. discolor. The maximum difference between haplotypes was 0.8% (4 bp) for H. tenuis and 4.2% (21 bp) for D. discolor. We observed haplotype overlap between geographic regions for both species. Analysis of molecular variance showed that two-thirds of the total variance in H. tenuis was found among regions while in D. discolor, a larger portion of variance was found within regions and populations due to a higher number of haplotypes observed within regions. Mantel test showed a significant relationship between genetic and geographic distance in D. discolor, but no significant relationship in H. tenuis.

5. Our analyses show that, despite their very similar overall distribution pattern in Europe, the two species exhibit distinct population structures, which may reflect differences in phylogeographic history, dispersal capabilities, habitat specifity or within-region geographic occurrence.