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Re-examination of a proposed case of stasipatric speciation: phylogeography of the Australian morabine grasshoppers (Vandiemenella viatica species group)


  • This work forms part of T.K.’s PhD thesis on speciation and phylogeography of the Vandiemenella grasshoppers. R.K.B.’s research focuses on speciation, hybrid zones and the maintenance of sexual reproduction. M.A. employs the ancient art of allozyme electrophoresis to resolve systematic uncertainties within the Australasian fauna. K.M.S. is a senior technician with expertise in molecular genetic analyses. D.J.P. researches the biogeography and landscape ecology of Australian fauna. S.J.B.C. specializes in the application of molecular techniques to investigate the systematics, evolution and ecology of Australian fauna.

Steven J. B. Cooper, Fax: +61 8 8207 7222; E-mail:


Karyotypic differences have been used for delimiting populations or species, although whether these mutations provide strong barriers to gene flow between populations and promote speciation remains contentious. In this study, we assessed whether 11 chromosomal races of Australian morabine grasshoppers (Vandiemenella viatica species group) represent genetically distinct populations by analyses of cytological and allozyme (35 loci) data and DNA sequences of the elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1α), anonymous Mvia11, and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) loci. While the Vandiemenella chromosomal taxa generally represent genetically distinct units, a substantial portion of the total genetic variation in our samples was not explained by the chromosomal variation. Mantel tests indicated that Vandiemenella populations were spatially structured and have maintained gene flow at a local scale within each of the taxa. The group was subdivided into 13 genetic clusters; four chromosomal taxa comprised single exclusive clusters, while others comprised more than one cluster or clusters shared with other taxa. Boundaries of these cryptic population subdivisions correspond with several biogeographical barriers, such as straits, gulfs, the Murray River, and an ancient mega-lake, Lake Bungunnia. The viatica species group was previously proposed to have diversified without major geographical separation based on the stasipatric speciation model; however, the present study suggests the involvement of allopatric fragmentation. Given extensive nonmonophyly of chromosomal taxa and incomplete barriers to gene flow among taxa, all Vandiemenella chromosomal taxa and genetically distinct populations within chromosomal taxa, except Vandiemenella pichirichi, should be regarded as populations of one species: Vandiemenella viatica.