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Evolution of Pacific Rim diving beetles sheds light on Amphi‐Pacific biogeography

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The origin of biodiversity in the Neotropics predominantly stems either from Gondwana breakup or late dispersal events from the Nearctic region. Here, we investigate the biogeography of a diving beetle clade whose distribution encompasses parts of the Oriental region, the Indo‐Australian archipelago (IAA) and the Neotropics. We reconstructed a dated molecular phylogeny, inferred diversification dynamics and estimated ancestral areas under different biogeographic assumptions. For the Oriental region and the IAA, we reveal repeated and complex colonization patterns out of Australia, across the major biogeographic lines in the region (e.g. Wallace's Line). The timing of colonization events across the IAA broadly coincides with the proposed timing of the formation of major geographic features in the region. Our phylogenetic hypothesis recovers Neotropical species nested in two derived clades. We recover an origin of the group in the early Eocene about 55 million yr ago, long after the break‐up of Gondwana initiated, but before a complete separation of Australia, Antarctica and the Neotropics. When allowing an old Gondwanan ancestor, we reconstruct an intricate pattern of Gondwanan vicariance and trans‐Pacific long‐distance dispersal from Australia toward the Neotropics. When restricting the ancestral range to more plausible geological area combinations in the Eocene, we infer an Australian origin with two trans‐Pacific long‐distance dispersal events toward the Neotropics. Our results support on one hand a potential Gondwanan signature associated with regional extinctions in the Cenozoic and with Antarctica serving as a link between Australia and the Neotropics. On the other hand, they also support a trans‐Pacific dispersal of these beetles toward the Andean coast in the Oligocene.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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