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The subterranean environment, a dead end or an opportunity?

AutorRibera, Ignacio ; Abellán, Pedro
Fecha de publicaciónsep-2013
CitaciónCALPE Conference (2013)
ResumenThe high degree of specialization of cave organisms, with extreme morphological and physiological modifications, has attracted the attention of naturalists and evolutionary biologist for more than two centuries. The common assumption is that the lack eyes and wings (in insects), and the general loss of regulatory mechanisms to avoid dehydration typical of cave organisms confine them to the deep subterranean environment, in an evolutionary dead end with extinction as the only possible outcome. Recent work on two Pyrenean groups of subterranean beetles (Trechini and Leptodirini) suggests that, far from being a dead end, the colonization of the subterranean environment may represent an opportunity for diversification. In this talk I will illustrate this with two examples from work in which I have participated. In the first, a genus deeply nested within a clade of exclusively subterranean species is shown to have expanded its range from the Pyrenees to colonize some karstic areas of the Catalonian coast, and subsequently radiate in them. In the second, we found that one of the most extreme adaptations of subterranean insects, the shortening of the life cycle with the development of a large, single instar non-feeding larva had a unique origin. This implies that diversification occurred after the development of this specialization, and, actually, we found that it did happen at a higher rate that that of the non-modified lineages that retained the ancestral state of an active, three instar larvae or a less modified stage of a still active, two instar larvae.
DescripciónTrabajo presentado en la CALPE Conference (Caves as Archives. Gibraltar, a case study), celebrada en Gibraltar del 14 al 17 de septiembre de 2013.
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