Evolution of the Biodiversity Hotspot of Madagascar from the Eye of Diving Beetles : Phylogeny, colonization and speciation

Abstract: Dytiscidae, contains numerous endemic and non-endemic species on Madagascar. Their evolutionary history is largely unknown on the island. Herein, I use analyses to infer phylogenetic relationship among groups of diving beetles, with a focus on the subfamily Dytiscinae and endemic species in two other groups of Dytiscidae. Paper I represents the first phylogenetic reconstruction focusing on the tribe Aciliini based on molecular data. Several commonly used molecular markers, as well as a new marker for Hydradephagan beetles, were evaluated in this study. Our analyses suggest that six genera within Aciliini are monophyletic. The most basal clades with Neotropical and Afrotropical taxa suggest a possible Gondwanan origin. Evaluation of gene fragments indicated CAD to be the most informative marker. Paper II focuses on colonization and radiation events of large bodied endemic diving beetles of the tribes Cybistrini and Hydaticini on Madagascar. Colonization events were inferred from dated phylogenetic trees and ancestral biogeographical reconstructions. Our results suggest both multiple colonizations, and out-of-Madagascar dispersal events, mostly during the Miocene and Oligocene. In paper III, we revised the Rhantus species of Madagascar. We used both molecular and morphological data to evaluate species hypothesis and emphasized the value of Manjakatompo – one of the last remaining fragments of central highland forests. In Paper IV we reconstruct the phylogeny and use Species Distribution Modelling for the endemic genus Pachynectes in Madagascar. Our sampling has discovered that the species diversity of Pachynectes is at least three times higher than previously believed. It seems that allopatric speciation was the main driver, which led to the diversity of Pachynectes. Our results suggest that climatic gradients and the five main biomes were a better predictor than watershed systems in explaining the distribution pattern and speciation between sister species.