Genetic distinctiveness of Ligumia recta, the black sandshell, in the Mobile River Basin and implications for its conservation
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North America’s freshwater mussels are widely regarded as one of the most diverse and imperiled groups on earth, and many of the continent’s ~ 300 Unionidae and Margaratiferidae are drainage or regional endemics. Although Ligumia recta is currently widespread and stable in the Mississippi Basin, recent surveys suggest it is extirpated from the Pearl River drainage and only small populations persist in isolated Mobile River Basin tributaries. We compared 504 base pairs of the cytochrome c oxidase 1 mitochondrial gene from two Mobile Basin L. recta specimens and found that the Mobile Basin appears to support an evolutionarily significant genotype that could warrant recognition as a cryptic and highly imperiled taxon. Genetic data are beginning to reveal the extent and magnitude of recent biodiversity losses in the southeastern US, and moreover, these data will be critical to tailoring conservation and management strategies.
KeywordsCytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 CO1 mtDNA Unionidae Ligumia recta
We thank Ray Kessler (ASU) and two anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments and suggestions that greatly improved this manuscript. Anne Wynne, Geological Survey of Alabama, provided a map of the Mobile Basin for Fig. 1. Funding for this research was provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District Office, and an internal grant from the Appalachian State University Research Council.
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