Intra-specific genetic diversity is important not only because it influences population persistence and evolutionary potential, but also because it contains past geological, climatic and environmental information. In this paper, we show unusually clear genetic structure of the endangered Japanese crayfish that, as a sedentary species, provides many insights into lesser-known past environments in northern Japan. Over the native range, most populations consisted of unique 16S mtDNA haplotypes, resulting in significant genetic divergence (overall F ST = 0.96). Owing to the simple and clear structure, a new graphic approach unraveled a detailed evolutionary history; regional crayfish populations were comprised of two distinct lineages that had experienced contrasting demographic processes (i.e. rapid expansion vs. slow stepwise range expansion) following differential drainage topologies and past climate events. Nuclear DNA sequences also showed deep separation between the lineages. Current ocean barriers to dispersal did not significantly affect the genetic structure of the freshwater crayfish, indicating the formation of relatively recent land bridges. This study provides one of the best examples of how phylogeographic analysis can unravel a detailed evolutionary history of a species and how this history contributes to the understanding of the past environment in the region. Ongoing local extinctions of the crayfish lead not only to loss of biodiversity but also to the loss of a significant information regarding past geological and climatic events. © 2012 Koizumi et al.
Koizumi, I., Usio, N., Kawai, T., Azuma, N., & Masuda, R. (2012). Loss of genetic diversity means loss of geological information: The endangered Japanese crayfish exhibits remarkable historical footprints. PLoS ONE, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033986