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Recognition of a species-poor, geographically restricted but morphologically diverse Cape lineage of diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae: Hyphydrini)

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Abstract  Aim 

To establish the phylogeny and geographical origin of the genera of the diving beetle tribe Hyphydrini in order to investigate the origin of differences in geographical range size, intrageneric species-richness and morphological disparity. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that the geographically restricted, species-poor and morphologically deviating genera found in the Cape Region of South Africa are a paraphyletic pool of ‘primitive’ Hyphydrini, from which the morphologically more uniform, species-rich and geographically widespread genera have originated. Location 

Worldwide, with special reference to the Cape Region of South Africa. Methods 

We constructed a genus-level molecular phylogeny of 10 of the 14 known genera of Hyphydrini, including the five endemic to the Cape Region, using sequences from four gene fragments (two mitochondrial, rrnL and cox1; and two nuclear, 18S rRNA and histone 3, c. 2200 bp). Phylogenies were built with Bayesian methods, and linearized using penalized likelihood. Morphological disparity was characterized by correspondence analysis of a data matrix of 21 binary characters. We compare morphological disparity among groups using distance to the global and local centroids and the total range of morphospace occupied. Geographical range was estimated using the number of 6° longitude × 8° latitude Universal Transverse Mercator squares known to contain any species of each genus. Results 

Hyphydrini is made up of four well supported clades of similar relative genetic divergence: (1) Hyphydrus (Old World plus Australasia, 133 species), (2) the five endemic genera of the Cape Region, sister to Hovahydrus (Madagascar) (10 species), (3) Desmopachria (America, 92 species), and (4) two Oriental genera (Microdytes and Allopachria, 68 species). The morphological disparity within the Cape Region lineage has apparently increased with time, with the two genera closest to the global centroid paraphyletic and basal with respect to the three more recent, morphologically deviating genera. Differences in the number of species between each of the four lineages were not significant. The correlation between the number of species in each lineage and geographical range extent was highly significant, with the low species number of the Cape Region (six) well within the 95% confidence interval of the regression. Main conclusions 

Contrary to expectations, the species-poor, morphologically deviating endemic genera of the Cape Region are not a ‘primitive’ relictual pool from which the widespread, species-rich and morphologically uniform genera have originated. The morphological disparity within the Cape lineage has increased with time, and the apparent lack of species-level diversification disappears when species–area relationships are considered. A major unanswered question is why one of the four main lineages of Hyphydrini has remained restricted to a very reduced area (the Cape Region), but despite this evolved the highest degree of morphological diversity seen in the tribe.
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Keywords: Adaptive radiation; Cape Region; Coleoptera; Dytiscidae; Hyphydrini; diversification; molecular phylogenies; morphological disparity; range size

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Zoologische Staatssammlung, München, Germany

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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