The crustacean order Bathynellacea is amongst the most diverse and widespread groups of subterranean aquatic fauna (stygofauna) in Australia. Interest in the diversity and biogeography of Australian Bathynellacea has grown markedly in recent years. However, relatively little information relating to this group has emerged from Queensland. The aim of this study was to investigate bathynellacean diversity and phylogeny in south-east Queensland. Relationships between the south-east Queensland fauna and their continental relatives were evaluated through the analysis of combined mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data. Bathynellaceans were collected from alluvial groundwater systems in three catchments in south-east Queensland. This study revealed a diverse bathynellacean fauna with complex evolutionary relationships to related fauna elsewhere in Queensland, and on the wider Australian continent. The multifamily assemblage revealed here is likely to represent several new species, and at least one new genus within the Parabathynellidae. These taxa likely have relatively restricted geographic distributions. Interestingly, the south-east Queensland Bathynellacea appeared to be distantly related to their north-east Queensland counterparts. Although it was not possible to determine the generic identities of their closest relatives, the south-east Queensland Parabathynellidae appear to be most closely affiliated with southern and eastern Australian lineages. Together with previous survey data, the findings here suggest that there is likely to be considerable bathynellacean diversity in alluvial groundwater systems across the wider Queensland region. Further assessment of stygofauna distributions in south-east Queensland is necessary to understand the biological implications of significant groundwater use and development in the region.
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Vol. 64 • No. 1