ESR 25:43-55 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00609

Critically low levels of genetic diversity in fragmented populations of the endangered Glenelg spiny freshwater crayfish Euastacus bispinosus

Adam D. Miller1,2,*, Oisín F. Sweeney3,4, Nick S. Whiterod5, Anthony R. Van Rooyen6, Michael Hammer7, Andrew R. Weeks2,6

1Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia
2Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia
3Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Mount Gambier, South Australia 5290, Australia
4Red Branch Ecology, Old Erowal Bay, New South Wales 2540, Australia
5Aquasave - Nature Glenelg Trust, Goolwa Beach, South Australia 5214 Australia
6cesar, 293 Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
7Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Northern Territory 0801, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Glenelg spiny freshwater crayfish Euastacus bispinosus is a large endangered freshwater invertebrate of southeastern Australia that has suffered major population declines over the last century. Disjunct populations in the state of South Australia are in a particularly critical condition, restricted to a few isolated rising-spring habitats and in an ongoing state of decline. We assessed genetic diversity and gene flow within E. bispinosus across its current range using allele frequencies from 11 nuclear microsatellite loci and DNA sequence data from a single mitochondrial locus (cytochrome oxidase subunit I). Populations were characterized by low levels of genetic diversity and found to be highly structured, with gene flow restricted both within and across catchments, highlighting the species’ vulnerability to further habitat fragmentation and the importance of managing environmental threats on local scales across its current natural range. South Australian populations were characterized by critically low levels of genetic diversity generally, highlighting their potential vulnerability to localized extinction. Holistic conservation efforts are necessary to conserve populations, including local habitat management and, potentially, translocations to increase genetic diversity and evolutionary potential, and reduce possible inbreeding effects and the threat of extinction.


KEY WORDS: Population genetics · Gene flow · Genetic diversity · Species conservation · Habitat protection/restoration · Translocation · Inbreeding


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Cite this article as: Miller AD, Sweeney OF, Whiterod NS, Van Rooyen AR, Hammer M, Weeks AR (2014) Critically low levels of genetic diversity in fragmented populations of the endangered Glenelg spiny freshwater crayfish Euastacus bispinosus. Endang Species Res 25:43-55. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00609

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