We studied the genetic population structure and phylogeography of the montane caddisfly Drusus discolor across its entire range in central and southern Europe. The species is restricted to mountain regions and exhibits an insular distribution across the major mountain ranges. Mitochondrial sequence data (COI) of 254 individuals from the entire species range is analysed to reveal population genetic structure. The data show little molecular variation within populations and regions, but distinct genetic differentiation between mountain ranges. Most populations are significantly differentiated based on F(ST) and exact tests of population differentiation and most haplotypes are unique to a single mountain range. Phylogenetic analyses reveal deep divergence between geographically isolated lineages. Combined, these results suggest that past fragmentation is the prominent process structuring the populations across Europe. We use tests of selective neutrality and mismatch distributions, to study the demographic population history of regions with haplotype overlap. The high level of genetic differentiation between mountain ranges and estimates of demographic history provide evidence for the existence of multiple glacial refugia, including several in central Europe. The study shows that these aquatic organisms reacted differently to Pleistocene cooling than many terrestrial species. They persisted in numerous refugia over multiple glacial cycles, allowing many local endemic clades to form.
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