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Phylogeography and molecular phylogeny of Macaronesian island Tarphius (Coleoptera: Zopheridae): why are there so few species in the Azores?

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Aim  We used a phylogenetic framework to examine island colonization and predictions pertaining to differentiation within Macaronesian Tarphius (Insecta, Coleoptera, Zopheridae), and explain the paucity of endemics in the Azores compared with other Macaronesian archipelagos. Specifically, we test whether low diversity in the Azores could be due to recent colonization (phylogenetic lineage youth), cryptic speciation (distinct phylogenetic entities within species) or the young geological age of the archipelago.

Location  Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands), northern Portugal and Morocco.

Methods  Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear genes of Tarphius beetles of the Azores, other Macaronesian islands and neighbouring continental areas were used to investigate the origin of island biodiversity and to compare patterns of colonization and differentiation. A comparative nucleotide substitution rate test was used to select the appropriate substitution rate to infer clade divergence times.

Results  Madeiran and Canarian Tarphius species were found to be more closely related to each other, while Azorean taxa grouped separately. Azorean taxa showed concordance between species and phylogenetic clades, except for species that occur on multiple islands, which segregated by island of origin. Divergence time estimates revealed that Azorean Tarphius are an old group and that the most recent intra‐island speciation event on Santa Maria, the oldest island, occurred between 3.7 and 6.1 Ma.

Main conclusions  Our phylogenetic approach provides new evidence to understand the impoverishment of Azorean endemics: (1) Tarphius have had a long evolutionary history within the Azores, which does not support the hypothesis of fewer radiation events due to recent colonization; (2) the current taxonomy of Azorean Tarphius does not reflect common ancestry and cryptic speciation is responsible for the underestimation of endemics; (3) intra‐island differentiation in the Azores was found only in the oldest island, supporting the idea that young geological age of the archipelago limits the number of endemics; and (4) the lack of evidence for recent intra‐island diversification in Santa Maria could also explain the paucity of Azorean endemics. Phylogenetic reconstructions of other species‐rich taxa that occur on multiple Macaronesian archipelagos will reveal whether our conclusions are taxon specific, or of a more general nature.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Azorean Biodiversity Group, CITA-A, Universidade dos Açores, Rua Capitão João d′Ávila, 9700-042 Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, Portugal 2: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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