, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 61-74

Comparative phylogeography of the centipedes Cryptops pictus and C. niuensis (Chilopoda) in New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu

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The South Pacific is a biodiverse region of extreme evolutionary importance because it harbors ancient lineages and recent radiations. However, few population-level studies of genetic variation have been conducted in the land masses of this region. Likewise, the number of population-level studies using myriapods as models is extremely small. In this article, we compare the genetic structure of two species of centipedes in the genus Cryptops endemic to the South Pacific, one from a continental island, the other from oceanic islands. The level of genetic diversity and structure in C. pictus, a species endemic to New Caledonia, is much higher than in C. niuensis in Fiji and Vanuatu, despite the fact that C. niuensis is spread across two different archipelagos and several islands. The most likely explanation is the relatively young age of the remnants of the Vitiaz Arc (Fiji and Vanuatu) compared to New Caledonia. Using the emergence of Fiji-Vanuatu as a calibration point, C. pictus is estimated to have diverged by 23.4 Mya (upper 95% confidence interval) with a mean estimate of 11.7 Mya versus the 9.7 Mya of C. niuensis. Considering the absence of shared sequences between specimens from different sampling sites and the high genetic structuring within populations, C. pictus appears to be an ideal candidate to assess historical processes at a micro-evolutionary scale in New Caledonia.