Orcula

Two specimens of Orcula pseudodolium “kissing”. The photo was made in the species’ type locality, the Sengsengebirge of the National Park Kalkalpen.

Communication: Josef Harl

The project treats the phylogeography of the landsnail genus Orcula Held, 1837 and its relation to other genera of the family Orculidae. The genus Orcula consists of 13 currently known species. All representatives are more or less restricted to limestone areas of the Alps, the Carpathians, and the Dinarids. The species’ distribution in the Alps is strongly influenced by the last glaciation as large parts of the present distribution area were covered by ice. Our data shall help to understand distribution and migration patterns and to reveal possible refugial areas. We started our investigation with a compilation of all available types of the genus to get a good overview, regarding taxonomical status, availability of names, and information about type specimens and type localities (Harl et al. 2011). We then focused on the species Orcula dolium which stands out to some extent as it is the only species within the genus that inhabits the Alps and the Carpathians. The investigations are based on a large sample, covering the main distribution. We conducted morphometric analyses including the shells of 1600 specimens and set up a phylogenetic analysis based on two mitochondrial marker sequences (Cytochrome Coxidase subunit I and 16S rRNA) and sequences of the nuclear H3H4 – histone complex. Within O. dolium, several quite distinct mitochondrial clades can be distinguished. Subsequently, we will test whether these clades represent morphological entities and whether morphology can be connected with environmental influences such as altitiude. First results were presented at several scientic meetings.

Further studies will treat the remaining Alpine Orcula species for whom our preliminary data suggests that hybridisation happened probably several times. Finally, we plan to study the phylogeny of the whole genus, including also the species of the Dinarids and the Black Sea region. Our results will be published end of 2011 and 2012.

Josef Harl

Josef Harl

Natural History Museum of Vienna, Central Research Laboratories

Email: josef.harl@nhm-wien.ac.at

Read more about Josef Harl

Publications on Orcula

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