Contrasting mitochondrial DNA diversity estimates in Austrian Scutovertex minutus and S. sculptus (Acari, Oribatida, Brachypylina, Scutoverticidae)
ABSTRACT a b s t r a c t Important insights into the evolutionary and demographic history of species can be obtained from inter-specific comparisons of patterns and from determing the degree of genetic diversity. Analysis of sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene revealed remarkable differences in mtDNA diversity estimates and the distribution of mitochondrial lineages between the two closely related oribatid mite species Scutovertex sculptus and S. minutus in Austria. Divergence time estimates revealed an age of approximately 48–74 Myr for the split between the two Scutovertex species and age estimates of about 2–3 and 8–12 Myr for the most recent common ancestors of Austrian S. minutus and S. sculptus, respectively. Genetic diversity was considerably lower in S. minutus than in S. sculptus. A clear geographic sub-division into samples originating from north and south of the Central Alps became evident in S. minutus, whereas no phylogeographic structure was found in S. sculptus. Together with a high genetic diversity this is suggestive of a panmictic population and exceptional dispersal ability, most probably facilitated by phoresy on birds. The lack of sub-structure with regard to habitat types in S. sculptus suggests that this species can cope with a wide range of environmental conditions.