Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Finland

Recipient of Best Student Oral Presentation Award


Cryptic diversification of the harpacticoid copepod Harpacticella inopinata in Lake Baikal [oral presentation]

I am currently working on my PhD thesis “Evolutionary diversification of continental benthic microcrustaceans”, which aims to assess the level and patterns of hidden diversity among freshwater microcrustaceans and find out how this has been driven by environmental conditions and historical geographic changes. In my thesis, I am focusing on the morphological and genetic diversity of freshwater harpacticoid copepods in different biogeographical arenas, where the evolutionary processes are expected to be different: from postglacial lakes and ponds in Northern Europe to the ancient and deepest Lake Baikal, East Siberia. Freshwater harpacticoids often manifest remarkable intraspecific diversity, facilitated by limited gene flow between populations and therefore represent a unique system for studying phylogeography and speciation processes.

In my talk at the e-ICOC, I was presenting a study of the cryptic diversity of Harpacticella inopinata Sars from Lake Baikal. This species is one of the most abundant copepods in Lake Baikal, distributed along its entire shoreline and lives at the different substrates. In this project, we are aiming to understand the roles of ecological specialization vs. geographical isolation in H. inopinata diversification. Together with Tatyana Mayor from Limnological Institute in Irkutsk, we were able to collect more than 30 populations and sequence COI mtDNA, ITS and 28S rRNA genes from all of them. Instead of one species, we found H. inopinata species flock, which includes both cryptic and morphologically distinct species. Now we are writing a paper based on these results.

I am honored to have received one of the Student Oral Presentation Awards for this talk. I would like to thank the team of e-ICOC organizers, which allowed us to meet and present our studies after the COVID-19 pandemic break. I would also like to thank the members of the copepod community for their exciting presentations and discussions at this conference.