Authors: J. M. Pfeiffer,N. A. Johnson. C. R. Randklev, R. G. Howells, J. D. Williams

The Central Texas endemic freshwater mussel, Quadrula mitchelli (Simpson in Dall, 1896), had been presumed extinct until relict populations were recently rediscovered. To help guide ongoing and future conservation efforts focused on Q. mitchelli we set out to resolve several uncertainties regarding its evolutionary history, specifically its unknown generic position and untested species boundaries. We designed a molecular matrix consisting of two loci (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and internal transcribed spacer I) and 57 terminal taxa to test the generic position of Q. mitchelli using Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood phylogenetic reconstruction. We also employed two Bayesian species validation methods to test five a priori species models (i.e. hypotheses of species delimitation). Our study is the first to test the generic position of Q.mitchelli and we found robust support for its inclusion in the genus Fusconaia. Accordingly, we introduce the binomial, Fusconaia mitchelli comb. nov., to accurately represent the systematic position of the species. We resolved F. mitchelli individuals in two well supported and divergent clades that were generally distinguished as distinct species using Bayesian species validation methods, although alternative hypotheses of species delineation were also supported. Despite strong evidence of genetic isolation within F. mitchelli, we do not advocate for species-level status of the two clades as they are allopatrically distributed and no morphological, behavioral, or ecological characters are known to distinguish them. These results are discussed in the context of the systematics, distribution, and conservation of F. mitchelli.

Suggested Citation

Pfeiffer III, J.M., Johnson, N.A., Randklev, C.R. et al. Conserv Genet (2016) 17: 279. doi:10.1007/s10592-015-0780-7