During the present study, we examined the phylogeography and systematics of two species of velvet worm (Peripatopsis Pocock, 1894) in the forested region of the southern Cape of South Africa. A total of 89 P. moseleyi (Wood-Mason, 1879) and 65 P. sedgwicki (Purcell, 1899) specimens were collected and sequenced for the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I mtDNA (COI). In addition, a single P. sedgwicki specimen per sample locality was sequenced for the 18S rRNA locus. Furthermore, morphological variation among P. sedgwicki sample localities were explored using traditional alpha taxonomic characters. DNA sequence data were subjected to phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference and population genetic analyses using haplotype networks and analyses of molecular variance (AMOVAs). Phylogenetic results revealed the presence of four and three clades within P. moseleyi and P. sedgwicki respectively. Haplotype networks were characterised by the absence of shared haplotypes between clades, suggesting genetic isolation, a result corroborated by the AMOVA and highly significant FST values. Specimens from Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve were both genetically and morphologically distinct from the two remaining P. sedgwicki clades. The latter result suggests the presence of a novel lineage nested within P. sedgwicki and suggests that species boundaries within this taxon require re-examination.
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Vol. 31 • No. 6