A complex evolutionary history in a remote archipelago: phylogeography and morphometrics of the Hawaiian endemic Ligia isopods. Academic Article uri icon


  • Compared to the striking diversification and levels of endemism observed in many terrestrial groups within the Hawaiian Archipelago, marine invertebrates exhibit remarkably lower rates of endemism and diversification. Supralittoral invertebrates restricted to specific coastal patchy habitats, however, have the potential for high levels of allopatric diversification. This is the case of Ligia isopods endemic to the Hawaiian Archipelago, which most likely arose from a rocky supralittoral ancestor that colonized the archipelago via rafting, and diversified into rocky supralittoral and inland lineages. A previous study on populations of this isopod from O'ahu and Kaua'i revealed high levels of allopatric differentiation, and suggested inter-island historical dispersal events have been rare. To gain a better understanding on the diversity and evolution of this group, we expanded prior phylogeographic work by incorporating populations from unsampled main Hawaiian Islands (Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, and Hawai'i), increasing the number of gene markers (four mitochondrial and two nuclear genes), and conducting Maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses. Our study revealed new lineages and expanded the distribution range of several lineages. The phylogeographic patterns of Ligia in the study area are complex, with Hawai'i, O'ahu, and the Maui-Nui islands sharing major lineages, implying multiple inter-island historical dispersal events. In contrast, the oldest and most geographically distant of the major islands (Kaua'i) shares no lineages with the other islands. Our results did not support the monophyly of all the supralittoral lineages (currently grouped into L. hawaiensis), or the monophyly of the terrestrial lineages (currently grouped into L. perkinsi), implying more than one evolutionary transition between coastal and inland forms. Geometric-morphometric analyses of three supralittoral clades revealed significant body shape differences among them. A taxonomic revision of Hawaiian Ligia is warranted. Our results are relevant for the protection of biodiversity found in an environment subject to high pressure from disturbances.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Santamaria, C. A., Mateos, M., Taiti, S., DeWitt, T. J., & Hurtado, L. A.

citation count

  • 25
  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Santamaria, Carlos A||Mateos, Mariana||Taiti, Stefano||DeWitt, Thomas J||Hurtado, Luis A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Crandall, K. A.

publication date

  • December 2013