, Volume 750, Issue 1, pp 125–146 | Cite as

Age and origin of Australian Bennelongia (Crustacea, Ostracoda)

  • Isa Schön
  • Rylan Shearn
  • Koen Martens
  • Annette Koenders
  • Stuart Halse


South-western Australia holds an exceptional number of endemic taxa and has been recognized as a biodiversity hotspot at a global scale. We report a much higher diversity in the genus Bennelongia (Ostracoda) in Western than in eastern Australia. Using mitochondrial COI sequence data for phylogenies, relative age estimates, lineage-through-time plots, and reconstructions of ancestral distributions, we test four hypotheses that might explain the higher diversity and endemicity in Western Australia. (1) We find no evidence for ancient relictualism as most Bennelongia species are probably of Miocene age. (2) There are also no apparent links to vicariant events: speciation has mostly taken place in Western Australia and has been ongoing through the evolutionary history of Bennelongia. (3) Dispersal has apparently not negatively affected Western Australian Bennelongia endemicity although these ostracods produce drought-resistant eggs. We report one case of recent long distance dispersal in B. dedeckkeri with genetically identical populations occurring more than 2,000 km apart. (4) Since speciation has been ongoing, there is no evidence of recent explosive speciation through genetic isolation. The underlying mechanisms of Bennelongia speciation thus remain elusive, although speciation has mostly occurred during a period of increasing aridification of Australia.


Biodiversity Divergence time Australia Phylogeny Phylogeography Drought resistance Dispersal Ostracod 



This research was funded by an ABRS grant (nr RF211-33: ‘Biodiversity and taxonomy of Ostracoda (Crustacea) from temporary water bodies of inland Western Australia’), an Edith Cowan University Industry Collaboration grant, and by the Centre for Ecosystem Management, Edith Cowan University. RS and AK acknowledge land owners who allowed sampling of sites on Lake Dunn station, Hazelmere Station, Kilcowera Station, and at Lake Powlathanga. Brian V. Timms (Newcastle, Australia) collected some of the material included in the present paper. Pierre Horwitz (Edith Cowan University) and personnel at Bennelongia Pty Ltd are thanked for logistical support and provision of field and lab materials. Sequencing was performed at the Australian Genome Research Facility (Perth) and at the RBINSc with assistance from Zohra Elouaazizi (RBINSc, Brussels, Belgium). KM & IS acknowledge the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (2006) and Bennelongia Pty Ltd (2008, 2009, 2010) for financial support during several scientific stays in Perth, as well as the financial contribution of the FWO Vlaanderen (Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders) in the form of travel grants in 2010 (V4.172.10 N & V4.173.10 N) and the projects (Krediet aan Navorsers) and G.0118.03 N (projectonderzoek). The authors thank three reviewers for their valuable comments that helped improve a previous version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isa Schön
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rylan Shearn
    • 3
  • Koen Martens
    • 1
    • 4
  • Annette Koenders
    • 3
  • Stuart Halse
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Freshwater BiologyRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Research Group ZoologyUniversity of HasseltDiepenbeekBelgium
  3. 3.Centre for Ecosystem ManagementEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of GhentGhentBelgium
  5. 5.Bennelongia Environmental ConsultantsJolimontAustralia

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