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Explosive evolution of an ancient group of Cyphophthalmi (Arachnida: Opiliones) in the Balkan Peninsula

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Abstract Aim 

To investigate the phylogeny of the genus Cyphophthalmus in the Balkan Peninsula and to test the current recognition of ‘phyletic lines’ and phylogenetic groups proposed in previous studies in order to elucidate the biogeographical history of the region. Location 

Europe, Balkan Peninsula, Adria microplate. Methods 

Two mitochondrial (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and 16S rRNA) and two nuclear (28S rRNA and 18S rRNA) markers were used to infer the phylogenetic history of the group. Molecular dating with relaxed molecular clocks was used to elucidate the relative time of diversification within the genus Cyphophthalmus and its constituent lineages. Results 

Our analyses confirm the monophyly of the genus Cyphophthalmus, and that of the Aegean and gjorgjevici lineages, whereas the ‘Dinaric lineage’ appears paraphyletic. Main conclusions 

We show that the genus Cyphophthalmus is an old endemic from the Balkan biogeographical region, which gave origin to at least three main lineages. Those lineages have diversified within overlapping ranges. According to our molecular dating, they have also diversified within the same timeframe. The Dinaric Alps, although presenting a large number of species, cannot be inferred as the centre of origin of the group. Instead, the biogeographical evolution of the genus could be related to the palaeogeographic history of the Adria microplate.

Keywords: Adria; Arthropoda; Balkan Peninsula; Cyphophthalmi; Cyphophthalmus; Europe; Gondwana; Sironidae; biogeography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Trg Dositeja Obradovica, Novi Sad, Serbia 2: Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2010


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