Zoological Studies

Vol. 55, 2016

(update: 2016.5.31)

Low Genetic Diversity in Diplomystes camposensis, an Endemic and Endangered Catfish from South Chile

Carlos P. Muñoz-Ramírez1,*, Evelyn Habit2, Peter J. Unmack4, Jerald B. Johnson5, and Pedro F. Victoriano1,3

1Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas. Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
2Facultad de Ciencias Ambientales y Centro EULA-Chile, Universidad de Concepción, Chile.
3Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas Patagónicos (CIEP), Coyhaique, Chile
4Institute for Applied Ecology and Collaborative Research Network for Murray-Darling Basin Futures, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
5Department of Biology and Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA 

(Received 30 November 2014; Accepted 24 December 2015)

Carlos P. Muñoz-Ramírez, Evelyn Habit, Peter J. Unmack, Jerald B. Johnson, and Pedro F. Victoriano (2016) Despite the fundamental importance of the family Diplomystidae for understanding catfish evolution, its species are poorly known and most of them endangered. Diplomystes camposensis, restricted to a single river basin in southern Chile, is perhaps the mostvulnerable species due to its small geographic range and imminent habitat alterations by dam constructions.Using mitochondrial DNA sequences, we describe the genetic diversity across its entire distribution in the Valdivia basin and test hypotheses related to the impact of glacial cycles on the genetic diversity andstructure. We found that Diplomystes camposensis has low genetic diversity and structure across the entire Valdivia basin along with a pattern of decreasing nucleotide and haplotype diversity from West to East. Demographic analyses showed evidence of population expansion in agreement with the glaciated history of the basin. Analyses of population structure showed no evidence of population subdivision. However, coalescent analyses indicated that very recent subdivision (in the last 50 years) cannot be ruled out. Low genetic diversity and genetic structure across the entire basin suggest that the species might be highly vulnerable to habitat fragmentation. Thus, the imminent construction of hydropower dams represents a serious threat to its conservation. Our results suggest that the low genetic diversity can be the product of the glaciated history of the basin, although the influence of species-specific biological traits may also add to this condition. Despite the overall low genetic diversity, higher diversity was found in the central portion of the basin suggesting high priority of conservation for this area as it might be used as a source population in case translocations are required among potential management plans.

Key words: Diplomystidae, Valdivia Basin, Genetic diversity, Genetic structure, Coalescent simulations, Pleistocene Glaciations, Conservation.

Correspondence: Current address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. TEL: +1-225-456-4561. E-mail: carmunoz@umich.edu

Vol. 55, 2016