Pleistocene glaciation is implicated in the phylogeographical structure of Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a New Zealand snail


M. Neiman. Present address: Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA. E-mail:


Pleistocene glaciation has been identified as an important factor shaping present-day patterns of phylogeographical structure in a diverse array of taxa. The purpose of this study was to use mitochondrial sequence data to address whether Pleistocene glaciation is also a major determinant of phylogeographical patterns in Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a freshwater snail native to New Zealand. We found that haplotypes were separated by no more than 3.7% sequence divergence, and major genetic divisions tended to occur on a north–south axis. These data fit the predictions of the hypothesis that isolation of P. antipodarum in glacial refugia at the northern and southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand during the Pleistocene glaciation underlies the present-day phylogeographical structure. Because sexual P. antipodarum occasionally produce asexual offspring, we also used these data to show that the appearance of asexuality is not phylogeographically constrained. This means that the maintenance of sex in P. antipodarum cannot be wholly due to limited contact between sexual and asexual lineages and must instead be linked to a selective advantage of sexual reproduction.