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Current geographical ranges of Malagasy dung beetles are not delimited by large rivers

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Abstract Aim 

We investigated whether the largest river (Mangoro) on the east coast of Madagascar acts as a barrier to dispersal in dung beetles by comparing species composition and genetic differentiation of the most common species on the two banks of the river. Moreover, by analysing the current geographical ranges of all wet forest dung beetle species, possible long-term effects of the largest rivers on the distribution of species were assessed. Location 

Madagascar. Methods 

Dung beetles were sampled with baited pitfall traps at a downstream and an upstream locality on the two banks of the Mangoro River. The most common species, Nanos binotatus (Canthonini), was sequenced for cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI; 804 bp) to characterize within-population diversity and between-population genetic differentiation. For the analysis of species geographical range boundaries in relation to the position of the largest rivers on the east coast, a database including all the records for 158 wet forest species was used. The congruence of species range boundaries with the positions of the rivers was tested with a randomization test. Results 

All common species were found on both sides of the Mangoro River. In Nanos binotatus, haplotype and nucleotide diversities ranged from 0.25 to 0.85 and 0.001 to 0.01, respectively. Population differentiation was high and significant in all comparisons (P <0.01; average F ST = 0.61). The differentiation was not significantly higher across than along the river, as would be expected by the riverine barrier hypothesis. There was no indication that the range boundaries of wet forest dung beetle species would generally coincide with the largest rivers in eastern Madagascar. Main conclusions 

The results provide little support for the riverine barrier hypothesis as an explanation for the current range boundaries of dung beetles in eastern Madagascar. However, extensive deforestation of the coastal regions in eastern Madagascar may have caused a great shrinkage of the ranges of many forest-dwelling species. Thus the present-day distributions may not reflect accurately the patterns of the past geographical ranges of the species.
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Keywords: Canthonini; FST; Madagascar; Nanos; deforestation; dispersal barrier; dung beetle; geographical range; microendemism; riverine barrier hypothesis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Département d’Entomologie, Faculté des Sciences, BP 906, Université d’Antananarivo, Antananarivo (101), Madagascar 2: Metapopulation Research Group, Department of Biosciences, PO Box 65, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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