Biological Sciences

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Epischura (Calanoida: Temoridae) is a Holarctic group of copepods serving important ecological roles, but it is difficult to study because of small range sizes of individual species and widespread distribution of the genus. This genus includes Tertiary relicts, some endemic to single, isolated lakes and can play major roles in unique ecosystems like Lakes Baikal and Tahoe. We present the first molecular and morphological analysis of Epischura that reveals their spatio-temporal evolutionary history. Morphological measurements of mandibles and genetics estimated phylogenetic relationships among all species represented in Epischura, including E. massachusettsensis, whose extinction status is of concern. Analyses used three gene regions for six previously unsequenced species to infer highly-resolved and well-supported phylogenies confirming a split between Siberian and North American species. Previously published age estimates and sequence data from broad taxonomic sampling of calanoid copepods estimated divergence times between the two Epischura groups. Divergence time estimates for Epischura were consistent with earlier molecular clock estimates and late-Miocene cooling events. Additionally, we provide the first taxonomically broad estimates of divergence times within Calanoida. The paraphyletic nature of the genus Epischura (and the family Temoridae) is apparent and requires the resurrection of the genus Epischurella (Smirnov 1936) to describe the Siberian species.


Manuscript version made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

Published article can be found in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution at