The Pseudagrion split: molecular phylogeny confirms the morphological and ecological dichotomy of Africa’s most diverse genus of Odonata (Coenagrionidae)


The continental African representatives of the genus Pseudagrion fall into two groups (A and B) based on their ecology and larval and adult morphology. While the B-group species are found in generally warmer habitats, which are more sunny, lentic or low-lying, the A-group representatives occur more in cooler habitats. We compared molecular genetic and ecological data of twelve species representing both groups. Mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses strongly support their segregation into two major clades and suggest the monophyly of each. High bootstrap support confirms the deep phylogenetic split. Overall, only a minority of species have been studied for each group. However, genetic distances of the species within each clade indicate that they are significantly more closely related to each other than to species of the opposite clade. We conclude that the observed ecological and morphological similarities are due to common ancestry, suggesting two independent radiations within the continental African Pseudagrion species. The biogeographic and palaeoe-cological history of the two clades remains unresolved.

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