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Molecular and morphological differentiation between steganacarid mites (Acari: Oribatida) from the Canary islands
- AVANZATI, ANNA MARIA, BARATTI, MARIELLA, BERNINI, FABIO
- Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1994 v.52 no.4 pp. 325-340
- Steganacarus, cluster analysis, genetic variation, heterozygosity, mites, phenotype, sympatry, Canary Islands
- Two steganacarid species, Steganacarus (Steganacarus)tenerifensis and S. (S.)carlosi, the first endemic to Tenerife and the second to La Gomera and Tenerife, were found to have such wide morphological variability as to cast doubt on their specific limits. Cluster analysis and MDS ordering were used to quantify morphological variation, and biochemical procedures were used to assess genetic variation in the two entities. The results revealed disagreement between the morphological and genetic data as reported in previous studies on steganacarid mites. Morphological traits were highly heterogeneous in the Canary island populations and genetic structure was homogeneous with very low heterozygosity. The separation of the two Canary island species, not to mention the phenotypes close to carlosi, is difficult to justify due to their very high genetic identity. The presence of morphological intermediates suggests the same conclusion. However, the sympatry of some phenotypes and previous data on this animal group are a source of doubt and suggest that further investigations are needed before conclusions can be reached in this regard. Correlations between morphological differentiation and known palaeogeographic events are suggested in the light of the possible evolutionary history of the steganacarid mites on the Canary islands.