The Jamaican freshwater crab Sesarma fossarum (Decapoda: Brachyura: Sesarmidae) is endemic to western central Jamaica where it occurs in cave and surface streams of karst regions. In the present study, we examine the population genetic structure of the species, providing evidence for intraspecific differentiation and genetic substructure among twelve sampled populations. Interestingly, crabs from caves appear genetically undistinguishable from representatives of nearby surface waters, despite previously observed and described morphometric differentiation. In contrast, genetic isolation takes place among populations from rivers and caves belonging to different watersheds. In one case, even populations from different tributaries of the same river were characterized by different genotypes. Overall, the species shows low haplotype and nucleotide diversities, which indicates a high homogeneity and point towards a relatively recent intraspecific radiation and diversification. Our results on the genetic diversification of S. fossarum helps to reconstruct unknown subterranean water flow and cave connections in its native range, allowing prediction of its further dispersal and differentiation potential. Unfortunately, its natural habitat of Jamaican cockpit karst, which also is home to several other endemic species and is a globally-recognized Key Biodiversity Area, is under imminent threat of intensive bauxite mining.
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Stemmer, Manuel and Christoph D. Schubart.
Genetic analyses determine connectivity among cave and surface populations of the Jamaican endemic freshwater crab Sesarma fossarum in the Cockpit Country.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol45/iss1/4