, Volume 713, Issue 1, pp 199-205

Hydra of Hawaii: phylogenetic relationships with continental species

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Abstract

The presence of freshwater hydra in the Hawaiian Islands, over 3,700 km from the nearest continental margin, provokes the question of how these animals could reach the islands. We examined three islands for hydra and found two species (the brown hydra, Hydra vulgaris Pallas 1766, and green hydra, H. viridissima Pallas 1766) present at multiple locations on Oahu and Kauai, and at a single site on Hawaii. Phylogenetic analysis based on the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and ITS2) regions of ribosomal DNA indicates that all collected strains of brown hydra were closely related to each other—consistent with a single introduced origin. The analysis also shows that all sampled Hawaiian brown hydra fall within a specific clade of H. vulgaris. This clade is sister to a North American clade and nested within a deeper North/Central America clade. The clade with all the Hawaiian brown hydra includes also individuals from Southern California, suggesting a Californian origin for the brown Hawaiian hydra. Hawaiian hydra were probably transported to the islands by man.

Handling editor: Diego Fontaneto