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Ancient associations of aquatic beetles and tank bromeliads in the Neotropical forest canopy

AuthorsBalke, Michael; Gómez-Zurita, Jesús ; Ribera, Ignacio ; Viloria, Ángel; Zillikens, Anne; Steiner, Josephina; García, Mauricio; Hendrich, Lars; Vogler, Alfried P.
KeywordsAquatic arthropods
Issue DateApr-2008
PublisherNational Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
CitationProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105(17): 6356–6361 (2008)
AbstractWater reservoirs formed by the leaf axils of bromeliads are a highly derived system for nutrient and water capture that also house a diverse fauna of invertebrate specialists. Here we investigate the origin and specificity of bromeliad-associated insects using Copelatinae diving beetles (Dytiscidae). This group is widely distributed in small water bodies throughout tropical forests, but a subset of species encountered in bromeliad tanks is strictly specialized to this habitat. An extensive molecular phylogenetic analysis of Neotropical Copelatinae places these bromeliadicolous species in at least three clades nested within other Copelatus. One lineage is morphologically distinct, and its origin was estimated to reach back to 12–23 million years ago, comparable to the age of the tank habitat itself. Species of this clade in the Atlantic rainforest of southern Brazil and mountain ranges of northern Venezuela and Trinidad show marked phylogeographical structure with up to 8% mtDNA divergence, possibly indicating allopatric speciation. The other two invasions of bromeliad water tanks are more recent, and haplotype distributions within species are best explained by recent expansion into newly formed habitat. Hence, bromeliad tanks create a second stratum of aquatic freshwater habitat independent of that on the ground but affected by parallel processes of species and population diversification at various temporal scales, possibly reflecting the paleoclimatic history of neotropical forests.
Description6 pages, 2 figures, 2 tables.-- PMID: 18434549 [PubMed].-- PMCID: PMC2359786.-- Available online Apr 23, 2008.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0710368105
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