The biogeographic history of the relictual Gondwanan lineage of Australian burrowing crayfish
School of Science
Australian Postgraduate Award Australian Rivers Institute at Graffith University
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Biogeographic investigations of Gondwanan mesic Australian fauna are scarce. The burrowing clade of Australian freshwater crayfish represent an ideal group to provide biogeographic inferences, due to their extensive distribution across the continent and their presumed ancient origin. This study tested the competing hypotheses of a ‘early’ versus ‘late’ origin of this clade, coinciding with the early or late fragmentation of Gondwana, respectively. The biogeographic history of this group was investigated through: (a) examination of the phylogenetic relationships between the seven extant taxon groups; (b) reconstruction of four species trees, each using a different calibration method; and (c) reconstruction of ancestral ranges and correlation of estimated dispersal and vicariance events with historical geological data to propose plausible mechanisms responsible for driving diversification. The phylogenetic relationships between the taxon groups were generally well supported (although some uncertainty exists for the oldest genera), and all calibration methods produced concordant results. The hypothesis that the clade arose during the early fragmentation of Gondwana in southern Australia is supported. Divergence between the extant taxa likely resulted from a combination of both short- and long-distance dispersal events (often followed by later vicariance), coincident with phases of sea level oscillation and changing climate continuing into the Eocene.