Differentiation in the Trochulus hispidus complex and related taxa (Pulmonata: Hygromiidae): Morphology, ecology and their relation to phylogeography

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Abstract

In this study we investigated the morphology and ecology of representatives of the taxonomically ambiguous genus Trochulus. The main focus was on the T. hispidus complex, which comprises several genetically highly divergent mitochondrial clades, as determined in a parallel molecular genetic study. We analysed shell morphology and anatomical traits and asked whether the clades are differentiated in these characters. In addition, the related species T. oreinos and T. Striolatus were investigated and compared with the T. hispidus complex. Finally, we compared the ecological requirements of the taxa. Among the genetic clades of the T. hispidus complex there was no clear morphological differentiation and geographic populations could not be distinguished based on their morphology. The investigated characters of the genital anatomy did not allow discrimination of any of the T. hispidus clades and were not even diagnostic for the group as a whole. The morphotype of T. Sericeus is present in all clades and thus cannot be assigned to a genetic group or any specific population. Thus, our morphological data do not provide evidence that any of the mitochondrial T. hispidus clades represent separate species. Concerning interspecific delimitation, the T. hispidus complex was clearly differentiated from T. Striolatus and T. oreinos by shell morphological and anatomical characters, e.g. Sculpture of shell surface and details of the penis. Finally, the habitat of T. oreinos is different from those of the other two species. In contrast to the lack of correspondence between genetic and morphological differentiation within the T. hispidus complex, related species display intraspecific morphological differentiation corresponding with mitochondrial clades: within T. Striolatus there was a slight morphological differentiation between the subspecies T. S. Striolatus, T. S. juvavensis and T. S. Danubialis. The two subspecies of T. oreinos could be discriminated by a small but consistent difference in the cross-section of the penis. The unequal levels of intraspecific differentiation are caused by different evolutionary histories as a consequence of disparities in ecological demands, dispersal ability and use of glacial refugia: both the T. hispidus complex and T. Striolatus are fast-spreading, euryoecious organisms which are able to (re-)colonize habitats and survive under different climate conditions. While the T. hispidus complex probably survived the Pleistocene in several glacial refugia, for T. Striolatus one glacial refugium is suggested. Trochulus oreinos differs from the other taxa, as it is a slow disperser with a narrow ecological niche. We suggest that its subspecies spent at least the last glaciation in or close to the presently inhabited areas.

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Duda, M., Kruckenhauser, L., Sattmann, H., Harl, J., Jaksch, K., & Haring, E. (2014). Differentiation in the Trochulus hispidus complex and related taxa (Pulmonata: Hygromiidae): Morphology, ecology and their relation to phylogeography. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 80(4), 371–387. https://doi.org/10.1093/mollus/eyu023

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