Data from: Parallels between two geographically and ecologically disparate cave invasions by the same species, Asellus aquaticus (Isopoda, Crustacea)
Konec, Marjeta et al. (2015), Data from: Parallels between two geographically and ecologically disparate cave invasions by the same species, Asellus aquaticus (Isopoda, Crustacea), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.23j81
Caves are long-known examples of evolutionary replications where similar morphologies (troglomorphies) evolve independently as the result of strong natural selection of the extreme environment. Recently, this paradigm has been challenged based on observations that troglomorphies are inconsistent across taxa and different subterranean habitats. We investigated the degree of replicated phenotypic change in two independent cave invasions by the freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus; the first in a sulphidic aquifer in Romania, the second in a sinking river in the Dinaric Karst in Slovenia. Both ancestral surface populations still live alongside the subterranean ones. Phylogenetic analyses show independence of the two colonization events, and microsatellite analysis shows no evidence of ongoing genetic exchange between surface and subterranean ecomorphs. The overall morphology has changed dramatically at both sites (50 of 62 morphometric traits). The amount of phenotypic change did not reflect differences in genetic diversity between the two ancestral populations. Multivariate analyses revealed divergent evolution in caves, not parallel or convergent as predicted by the current paradigm. Still, 18 traits changed in a parallel fashion, including eye and pigment loss and antennal elongation. These changes might be a consequence of darkness as the only common ecological feature, because Romanian caves are chemoautotrophic and rich in food, whereas Slovenian caves are not. Overall, these results show that morphologically alike surface populations can diverge after invading different subterranean habitats, and that only about one-third of all changing traits behave as troglomorphies in the traditional sense.