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Diversification patterns and processes of wingless endemic insects in the Mediterranean Basin: historical biogeography of the genus Blaps (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae)

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The Mediterranean Basin (MB) is a species‐rich biogeographical region with many endemic taxa. We analysed the historical patterns of temporal and geographical diversification of Mediterranean Blaps (Tenebrionidae), a diverse group of flightless beetles, estimated their date of origin and colonization of the MB, and tracked temporal changes in diversification rates.

Mediterranean Basin.

We reconstructed the phylogenetic relationships of Mediterranean Blaps using four mitochondrial genes and 47 morphological characters. Divergence‐time estimates were investigated with a Bayesian relaxed clock approach that was calibrated with both fossil and geological constraints. Biogeographical analyses were performed using the dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis likelihood model associated with a stratified palaeogeographical scenario. Diversification rate analyses allowed the investigation of diversity dynamics through time as well as rate shifts during major Cenozoic climate events.

The Bayesian relaxed clock analysis suggests that Blaps first appeared in the MB about 28┬áMa. The most likely scenario is that Mediterranean Blaps originated in the Arabian and north‐east African regions and then dispersed progressively westwards and northwards, using temporary land bridges to colonize the northern shores of the MB. Island endemics are more likely to be the products of recent dispersals than of old vicariance events. Birth–death analyses suggest that diversification rates in the Miocene and Pliocene are consistent with a ‘museum model’, in which most of the extant diversity is best explained by a steady accumulation of lineages under constant diversification rates. Although major Cenozoic climatic events do not seem to have influenced the diversification of Mediterranean Blaps, a decrease in diversification rates was detected during the Pleistocene.
Main conclusions

Our results suggest that Mediterranean Blaps lineages diversified between the Oligocene and the Pliocene, with current distribution patterns mostly accounted for by early vicariance and late dispersal events. Diversification rates were relatively constant through time, but decreased during Pleistocene glaciation cycles. This scenario may be applicable to other Mediterranean terrestrial animal taxa.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-10-01

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