Augustina Löwenstein


Lepidurus apus (L., 1758): A population genetic analysis through time and space

PhD Student
Supervisors: Luise Kruckenhauser

Natural History Museum Vienna;
Unit for Integrative Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Vienna


I am investigating the population dynamics of the freshwater tadpole shrimp Lepidurus apus (L., 1758) (Branchiopoda, Notostraca), the only representative species of this genus in Austria. The latest status-report on L. apus, its populations’ diversity and distribution are over 20 years old, and essential information on basic genetic data and genetic patterns of Austrian populations are missing.

As my title indicates, my Master’s Thesis contains two different perspectives on L. apus. The first one is spatial: I aim to investigate the recent genetic variation among different tadpole shrimp populations at various locations in Austria, seeking an understanding to what extent they might be genetically differentiated. To broaden this, I will be including L. apus samples from Slovakia. For the second, temporal perspective, I have the great chance to work with the extensive L. apus collection of the Natural History Museum of Vienna (NHMW). The earliest material is from the 1960s and the collection was continuously expanded until the early 2000s. Such contiguous collections of one species are rare and provide an excellent opportunity to study genetic change through time.

The population genomic methods will be based predominantly on ddRAD (double-digest restriction-site associated DNA) sequencing data and applied for the fresh material. To account for the high degree of fragmentation in the historic samples, a derived RAD approach specifically designed for such fragmented DNA will be used: hyRAD. To improve the analysis of the ddRAD and hyRAD libraries the whole genome of L. apus is needed as a reference. My project will furthermore include the sequencing and assembly of one L. apus genome, which is small (110 Mb) compared to other Crustaceans. The whole genome will be assembled via a combination of Illumina short reads and MinION nanopore long reads.