The persistence of asexual reproduction in many taxa depends on a balance between the origin of new asexual lineages and the extinction of old ones. This turnover determines the diversity of extant asexual populations and so influences the interaction between sexual and asexual modes of reproduction. Species with mixed reproduction, like the freshwater ostracod (Crustacea) morphospecies Eucypris virens, are a good model to examine these dynamics. This species is also a geographic parthenogen, in which sexual females and males co-exist with asexual females in the circum-Mediterranean area only, whereas asexual females occur all over Europe. A molecular phylogeny of E. virens based on the mitochondrial COI and 16S fragments is presented. It is characterised by many distinct clusters of haplotypes which are either exclusively sexual or asexual, with only one exception, and are often separated by deep branches. Analysis of the phylogeny reveals an astonishing cryptic diversity, which indicates the existence of a species complex with more than 40 cryptic taxa. We therefore suggest a revision of the single species status of E. virens. The phylogeny indicates multiple transitions from diverse sexual ancestor populations to asexuality. Although many transitions appear to be ancient, we argue that this may be an artefact of the existence of unsampled or extinct sexual lineages.
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