Evolution of blind beetles in isolated aquifers: A test of alternative modes of speciation

Remko Leijs, Egbert van Nes, Chris Watts, Steven Cooper, W Humphreys, Katja Hogendoorn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Evidence is growing that not only allopatric but also sympatric speciation can be important in the evolution of species. Sympatric speciation has most convincingly been demonstrated in laboratory experiments with bacteria, but field-based evidence is limited to a few cases. The recently discovered plethora of subterranean diving beetle species in isolated aquifers in the arid interior of Australia offers a unique opportunity to evaluate alternative modes of speciation. This naturally replicated evolutionary experiment started 10-5 million years ago, when climate change forced the surface species to occupy geographically isolated subterranean aquifers. Using phylogenetic analysis, we determine the frequency of aquifers containing closely related sister species. By comparing observed frequencies with predictions from different statistical models, we show that it is very unlikely that the high number of sympatrically occurring sister species can be explained by a combination of allopatric evolution and repeated colonisations alone. Thus, diversification has occurred within the aquifers and likely involved sympatric, parapatric and/or microallopatric speciation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere34260
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume7
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2012

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