Conservation Genetics

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 917–923 | Cite as

Molecular evidence for cryptic species in a narrowly endemic western North American springsnail (Pyrgulopsis gilae)

  • Hsiu-Ping Liu
  • Robert Hershler
  • Brian Lang
  • Justin Davies
Short Communication


Pyrgulopsis gilae is a small springsnail that is narrowly distributed along the forks of the upper Gila River and currently being managed as a threatened and sensitive species by the State of New Mexico and United States Forest Service, respectively. A previous phylogeographic study of this species based on mitochondrial COI sequences delineated substantial divergence between several populations along the lower and upper reaches of the East Fork Gila River. The present study surveyed COI variation among a larger number of populations across the entire geographic range of P. gilae. Three haplotype groupings were delineated that were congruently resolved as clades by a Bayesian analysis. One of the clades was composed of populations along the lower East Fork and mainstem Gila River and corresponds to P. gilae as originally circumscribed. The other two clades were composed of populations along the Middle Fork and upper East Fork Gila River that were recently referred to P. gilae. These three geographically isolated clades do not share any haplotypes, have significant FST values, and are differentiated from each other by 3.9–6.3 % sequence divergence. Based on this evidence we suggest that the clades represent distinct species and should be managed as separate conservation units pending taxonomic revision of P. gilae. This study provides additional evidence that geographically disjunct subunits of Pyrgulopsis species often represent distinct monophyletic lineages that may warrant formal taxonomic recognition, and thus underscores the importance of fine-scale conservation genetics studies of these imperiled organisms.


Phylogeography Gastropoda Springs Conservation Cryptic species 



We thank Marilyn Myers (USFWS) for providing specimens. This project was supported, in part, by an award (to RH) from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (Contract # 10-516-0000-00010) and Section funding (Grant E-54) from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hsiu-Ping Liu
    • 1
  • Robert Hershler
    • 2
  • Brian Lang
    • 3
  • Justin Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMetropolitan State University of DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Department of Invertebrate ZoologySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.New Mexico Department of Game and FishSanta FeUSA

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