The role of dispersal for shaping phylogeographical structure of flightless beetles from the Andes

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Background: Páramo is a tropical alpine ecosystem present in the northern Andes. Its patchy distribution imposes limits and barriers to specialist inhabitants. We aim to assess the effects of this habitat distribution on divergence across two independently flightless ground beetle lineages, in the genera Dyscolus and Dercylus. Methods: One nuclear and one mitochondrial gene from 110 individuals from 10 sites across the two lineages were sequenced and analyzed using a combination of phylogenetics, population genetic analyses, and niche modeling methods. Results: The two lineages show different degrees of population subdivision. Low levels of gene flow were found in Dyscolus alpinus, where one dominant haplotype is found in four out of the six populations analyzed for both molecular markers. However, complete population isolation was revealed in species of the genus Dercylus, where high levels of differentiation exist at species and population level for both genes. Maximum entropy models of species in the Dercylus lineage show overlapping distributions. Still, species distributions appear to be restricted to small areas across the Andes. Conclusion: Even though both beetle lineages are flightless, the dispersal ability of each beetle lineage appears to influence the genetic diversity across fragmented páramo populations, where Dyscolus alpinus appears to be a better disperser than species in the genus Dercylus.




Muñoz-Tobar, S. I., & Caterino, M. S. (2019). The role of dispersal for shaping phylogeographical structure of flightless beetles from the Andes. PeerJ, 2019(7).

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