The National Museum of Natural Sciences
Recent publications
Background Ecological diversification is the result of divergent natural selection by contrasting habitat characteristics that favours the evolution of distinct phenotypes. This process can happen in sympatry and in allopatry. Habitat-specific parasite communities have the potential to drive diversification among host populations by imposing selective pressures on their host's immune system. In particular, the hyperdiverse genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are implicated in parasite-mediated host divergence. Here, we studied the extent of divergence at MHC, and discuss how it may have contributed to the Nicaraguan Midas cichlid species complex diversification, one of the most convincing examples of rapid sympatric parallel speciation. Results We genotyped the MHC IIB for individuals from six sympatric Midas cichlid assemblages, each containing species that have adapted to exploit similar habitats. We recovered large allelic and functional diversity within the species complex. While most alleles were rare, functional groups of alleles (supertypes) were common, suggesting that they are key to survival and that they were maintained during colonization and subsequent radiations. We identified lake-specific and habitat-specific signatures for both allelic and functional diversity, but no clear pattern of parallel divergence among ecomorphologically similar phenotypes. Conclusions Colonization and demographic effects of the fish could have contributed to MHC evolution in the Midas cichlid in conjunction with habitat-specific selective pressures, such as parasites associated to alternative preys or environmental features. Additional ecological data will help evaluating the role of host–parasite interactions in the Midas cichlid radiations and aid in elucidating the potential role of non-parallel features differentiating crater lake species assemblages.
Risk-taking in birds is often measured as the flight initiation distance (FID), the distance at which individuals take flight when approached by a potential predator (typically a human). The ecological factors that affect avian FID have received great attention over the past decades and meta-analyses and comparative analyses have shown that FID is correlated with body mass, flock size, starting distance of the approaching human, density of potential predators, as well as varying along rural to urban gradients. However, surprisingly, only few studies (mainly on reptiles and mammals) have explored effects of different types of refugia and their availability on animal escape decisions. We used Bayesian regression models (controlling for the phylogenetic relatedness of bird species) to explore changes in escape behaviour recorded in European cities in relationship to the birds' distance to the nearest refuge and distance fled to the refuge. In our analyses, we also included information on the type of refuge, built-up and vegetation cover, starting distance, flock size, urbanization level, and type of urban habitat. We found that birds preferred tree refuges over artificial and bush refuges. Birds escaped earlier if the distance to the nearest refuge of any type was longer and if birds fled longer distances to the refuge. FID was shorter when birds used bushes as refugia or landed on the ground after flushing compared to using artificial refugia. Similarly, the distance fled to a refuge was shortest when using bushes, and increased when escaping to artificial substrates and trees. Birds were more timid in suburban than core areas of cities, cemeteries than parks, and in areas with higher bush cover but lower cover of built-up areas and trees. Our findings provide novel information regarding the importance of refuge proximity and type as factors affecting the escape behaviour of urban birds.
Species richness is a widely used proxy for patterns of biodiversity variation in metacommunities. However, deeper analyses require additional metrics, such as the occupancy-frequency distributions (SOFD) of different local communities. The SOFD patterns indicate the number of shared species between study sites; therefore, they can provide new insights into the current debate on how to create more biodiversity-friendly cities. Breeding birds were counted from 593 point-count stations located in five 500 m × 500 m squares in land-sharing (LSH; low-density built areas interspersed with green spaces) and five similar nearby squares in land-sparing (LSP; densely built-up with set-aside, large-sized, continuous green spaces) landscapes in nine cities across Europe. High beta-diversity (with over 42% of the 103 species detected being restricted to a single city and only 7% found in all studied cities) showed the uniqueness of cities at the continental scale. Urban bird metacommunities followed the unimodal-satellite SOFD pattern at the European continental scale but a bimodal symmetric or asymmetric distribution at the city-level scale, suggesting that many common species occur in cities on a smaller scale. The LSP urban areas followed a unimodal satellite SOFD pattern with numerous rare species. In contrast, the LSH areas fit several types of bimodal SOFD patterns equally well, where communities share several common species. The findings also highlight the need to use multi-scale approaches to analyze the effects of LSH-LSP urban designs on urban bird diversity.
Increasing species diversity is considered a promising strategy to mitigate the negative impacts of global change on forests. However, the interactions between regional climate conditions and species-mixing effects on climate-growth relationships and drought resistance remain poorly documented. In this study, we investigated the patterns of species-mixing effects over a large gradient of environmental conditions throughout Europe for European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), two species with contrasted ecological traits. We hypothesized that across large geographical scales, the difference of climate-growth relationships and drought resistance between pure and mixed stands would be dependent on regional climate. We used tree ring chronologies derived from 1143 beech and 1164 pine trees sampled in 30 study sites, each composed of one mixed stand of beech and pine and of the two corresponding pure stands located in similar site conditions. For each site and stand, we used Bootstrapped Correlation Coefficients (BCCs) on standardized chronologies and growth reduction during drought years on raw chronologies to analyze the difference in climate-tree growth relationships and resistance to drought between pure and mixed stands. We found consistent large-scale spatial patterns of climate-growth relationships. Those patterns were similar for both species. With the exception of the driest climates where pure and mixed beech stands tended to display differences in growth correlation with the main climatic drivers, the mixing effects on the BCCs were highly variable, resulting in the lack of a coherent response to mixing. No consistent species-mixing effect on drought resistance was found within and across climate zones. On average, mixing had no significant effect on drought resistance for neither species, yet it increased pine resistance in sites with higher climatic water balance in autumn. Also, beech and pine most often differed in the timing of their drought response within similar sites, irrespective of the regional climate, which might increase the temporal stability of growth in mixed compared to pure stands. Our results showed that the impact of species mixing on tree response to climate did not strongly differ between groups of sites with distinct climate characteristics and climate-growth relationships, indicating the interacting influences of species identity, stand characteristics, drought events characteristics as well as local site conditions.
Species Distribution Models (SDMs) are essential tools for predicting climate change impact on species' distributions and are commonly employed as an informative tool on which to base management and conservation actions. Focusing only on a part of the entire distribution of a species for fitting SDMs is a common approach. Yet, geographically restricting their range can result in considering only a subset of the species' ecological niche (i.e., niche truncation) which could lead to biased spatial predictions of future climate change effects, particularly if future conditions belong to those parts of the species ecological niche that have been excluded for model fitting. The integration of large-scale distribution data encompassing the whole species range with more regional data can improve future predictions but comes along with challenges owing to the broader scale and/or lower quality usually associated with these data. Here, we compare future predictions obtained from a traditional SDM fitted on a regional dataset (Switzerland) to predictions obtained from data integration methods that combine regional and European datasets for several bird species breeding in Switzerland. Three models were fitted: a traditional SDM based only on regional data and thus not accounting for niche truncation, a data pooling model where the two datasets are merged without considering differences in extent or resolution, and a downscaling hierarchical approach that accounts for differences in extent and resolution. Results show that the traditional model leads to much larger predicted range changes (either positively or negatively) under climate change than both data integration methods. The traditional model also identified different variables as main drivers of species' distribution compared to data-integration models. Differences between models regarding predicted range changes were larger for species where future conditions were outside the range of conditions existing in the regional dataset (i.e., when future conditions implied extrapolation). In conclusion, we showed that (i) models Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 01 Chevalier et al. 10.3389/fevo.2022.944116 calibrated on a geographically restricted dataset provide markedly different predictions than data integration models and (ii) that these differences are at least partly explained by niche truncation. This suggests that using data integration methods could lead to more accurate predictions and more nuanced range changes than regional SDMs through a better characterization of species' entire realized niches.
We estimated the potential impact of Global Warming on the species richness of Iberian butterflies. First, we determined the grid size that maximized the balance between geographic resolution, area coverage and environmental representativeness. Contemporary richness was modelled in several alternative ways that differed in how sampling effort was controlled for, and in whether the non-climatic variables (physiography, lithology, position) were incorporated. The results were extrapolated to four WorldClim scenarios. Richness loss is to be expected for at least 70% of the area, with forecasts from the combined models being only slightly more optimistic than those from the purely climatic ones. Overall, the most intense losses are predicted for areas of highest contemporary species richness, while the potential slightly positive or nearly neutral changes would most often concentrate in cells of low to moderate present richness. The environmental determinants of richness might not be uniform across the geographical range of sampling effort, suggesting the need of additional data from the least intensively surveyed areas. Implications for insect conservation Re-assessing richness and its environmental determinants in the area proves necessary for more detailed forecasts of the climate-driven changes in butterfly species richness. The expected future conditions imply widespread losses of regional richness, even under the less severe scenarios. Since the negative impact of warming is expected to be extensive, long term conservation plans should concentrate in the present protected areas of highest richness as these are most likely to represent the last refuges for mountain species.
Fine root density in the soil is a plant functional trait of paramount importance for plant ecology and agriculture. Fine root proliferation by plants involves complex plant strategies that may depend on various abiotic and biotic factors. Concretely, the root tragedy of the commons (RToC) is a behavioral strategy predicted by game theory models in which interacting plants forage for soil resources inefficiently. Generally, researchers assume that the RToC is a proactive competition strategy directly induced by the non-self roots. In this opinion, I recall Hardin’s original definition of the tragedy of the commons to challenge this notion. I argue that the RToC is a suboptimal phenotypically plastic response of the plants based on the soil resource information exclusively, and I discuss how this alternative perspective carries important implications for the design of experiments investigating the physiological mechanisms underlying observable plant root responses.
This study reports cathodoluminescence (CL) and photoluminescence (PL) properties of undoped borate Ca3Y2B4O12 and Ca3Y2B4O12:x Dy3+ (x = 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7) synthesized by gel combustion method. Micro-X-Ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), CL and PL under electron beam and 359 nm pulse laser excitation, respectively were used to investigate characterization and luminescence studies of synthesized samples in the visible wavelength. As-prepared samples match the standard Ca3Y2BO4 phase that belongs to the orthorhombic system with space group Pnma (62) based on XRD results. Under electron beam excitation, this borate host shows a broad band emission from about 250 to 450 nm, peaked at 370 nm which is attributed to NBHOC. All as-prepared phosphors exhibited the characteristic PL and CL emissions of Dy3+ ions corresponding to 4F9/2→6HJ transitions when excited with laser at 359 nm. The CL emission spectra of phosphors were identical to those of the PL spectra. Concentration quenching occurred when the doping concentration was 1 mol% in both the CL and PL spectra. The underlying reason for the concentration quenching phenomena observed in the discrete orange-yellow emission peaked at 574 nm of Dy3+ ion-doped Ca3Y2B4O12 phosphor is also discussed. According to these data, we can infer that this new borate can be used as a yellow emitting phosphor in solid-state illumination.
Macroautophagy/autophagy is a key process in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. The age-dependent decline in retinal autophagy has been associated with photoreceptor degeneration. Retinal dysfunction can also result from damage to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), as the RPE-retina constitutes an important metabolic ecosystem that must be finely tuned to preserve visual function. While studies of mice lacking essential autophagy genes have revealed a predisposition to retinal degeneration, the consequences of a moderate reduction in autophagy, similar to that which occurs during physiological aging, remain unclear. Here, we described a retinal phenotype consistent with accelerated aging in mice carrying a haploinsufficiency for Ambra1, a pro-autophagic gene. These mice showed protein aggregation in the retina and RPE, metabolic underperformance, and premature vision loss. Moreover, Ambra1+/gt mice were more prone to retinal degeneration after RPE stress. These findings indicate that autophagy provides crucial support to RPE-retinal metabolism and protects the retina against stress and physiological aging.Abbreviations : 4-HNE: 4-hydroxynonenal; AMBRA1: autophagy and beclin 1 regulator 1, AMD: age-related macular degeneration;; GCL: ganglion cell layer; GFAP: glial fibrillary acidic protein; GLUL: glutamine synthetase/glutamate-ammonia ligase; HCL: hierarchical clustering; INL: inner nuclear layer; IPL: inner plexiform layer; LC/GC-MS: liquid chromatography/gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; MA: middle-aged; MTDR: MitoTracker Deep Red; MFI: mean fluorescence intensity; NL: NH4Cl and leupeptin; Nqo: NAD(P)H quinone dehydrogenase; ONL: outer nuclear layer; OPL: outer plexiform layer; OP: oscillatory potentials; OXPHOS: oxidative phosphorylation; PCR: polymerase chain reaction; PRKC/PKCα: protein kinase C; POS: photoreceptor outer segment; RGC: retinal ganglion cells; RPE: retinal pigment epithelium; SI: sodium iodate; TCA: tricarboxylic acid.
Misiam is a modern wildebeest-dominated accumulation situated in a steep ravine covered with dense vegetation at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). It is interpreted here as a leopard lair to which carcasses have been transported for several years. Felid-specific bone damage patterns, felid-typical skeletal part profiles, taxonomic specialization and the physical presence of leopards observed by the authors show that leopards at Misiam can be specialized medium-sized carcass accumulators. Hyenas also intervened at intervals in the modification of the retrieved faunal assemblage. This makes Misiam a carnivore palimpsest. Here, we additionally show that leopards only transport and accumulate carcasses on occasions, that they can seem highly specialized despite being dietary generalists, and that such a behaviour may be prompted by seasonal competition or during the breeding season or both. Misiam is the first open-air leopard lair with a dense bone accumulation reported. There, leopards engaged in intensive accumulation of carcasses during the wet season, when the southern Serengeti short-grass plains undergo the effect of the famous wildebeest migration and this migratory species reaches the gorge. The ecological importance of this behaviour and its relevance as a proxy for reconstructing prehistoric carnivore behaviours are discussed.
A series of Y1-xAl3(BO3)4:x Tb³⁺ (x = 0.5 to 7 wt%) phosphors synthesized by a gel combustion method have been systemically investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and photoluminescence (PL) as a function of temperature from 300 K to 10 K and 300 K–550 K. An XRD analysis confirms that the phosphors crystallized, and its crystal structure was analysed. The synthesized phosphor matches the XRD pattern provided in the ICSD File No 96-152-6006. The FTIR analysis indicates that nitrates and organic matter have been completely removed and the BO3 groups are present. The broad PL band peaked at 420 nm with a shoulder circa 460 nm of YAl3(BO3)4 is associated with hydrous components which attached to the sample in environmental conditions after synthesis. The PL spectra of YAl3(BO3):Tb³⁺ phosphors exhibit a bright and narrow green main emission peak at 543 nm corresponding to the ⁵D4 →⁷F5 transition under 359 nm excitation. The PL intensity increases with increasing Tb³⁺ ion concentration up to 5 wt %, followed by evidence for concentration quenching. There is a possibility that higher concentration quenching could be from confinement effects of localised resonant energy transfer. PL data revealed that activation energies for thermal quenching at 485 nm and 543 nm were found to be 0.659 and 0.092 eV, and 0.585 and 0.087 eV, respectively.
The excessive use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of resistant bacteria, mainly from the Enterobacterales group, with high pathogenic/zoonotic potentials that can lead to problems in public health. The increasing presence in freshwater ecosystems highlights the need to evaluate potential sentinel species as risk indicators for both ecosystem and human health. The freshwater mussels provide several ecosystem services, may represent potential sentinel species due to their ability to filter water and retain both organic and inorganic particles. We tested the capability of U. mancus to retain Escherichia coli as a model bacterial organism. Under experimental conditions, the mussels could clear suspended E. coli, facilitating its rapid elimination from water within the first 24 h after exposure. The species also presented a maximum retention time of 4 days. We also provide allometric equations correlating the filtering capacity with the length and the weight of mussel body parts often used in biometric studies. We provide a first assessment of the potential of the bivalve Unio mancus to act as a sentinel species for the detection of Enterobacterales and demonstrate the ability to act as a water cleaner.
Aim Networks of connected marine protected areas (MPAn) are recognized as the key area‐based management tool to preserve biodiversity, moderate exploitation of marine resources and increase ecological resilience to climate change. Although population genetic studies could greatly benefit connectivity assessments between MPAs, genetic data are rarely used in MPAn planning. Here, we aim to illustrate the use of a multispecies and multilocus approach to provide recommendations for MPAn design, highlighting the importance of the species selected and the analyses performed. Our study is focused on the Southern Ocean, an area of keen multinational interest given its scientific significance, economic importance and its unique, shared legal status. Location South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands MPA (SGSSI MPA), the South Orkney Islands and the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP)—where an MPA was proposed in 2018 (Domain 1 MPA) but has not been approved by the Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Methods Our datasets include 819 individuals from five different species with contrasting life‐history strategies: two nemerteans (Antarctonemertes valida and A. riesgoae), two annelids (Pterocirrus giribeti and Neanthes kerguelensis) and one sponge (Mycale [Oxymycale] acerata). To identify genetic connectivity patterns in our study area, spanning roughly 2500 km, we used the COI mitochondrial marker and genome‐wide ddRADseq‐derived SNPs. Results A consistent lack of connectivity between SGSSI MPA and the WAP was found for all studied species. Additionally, our data indicated a stepping‐stone role for the South Orkney Islands between these two genetically differentiated regions. Main conclusions Our results reveal how the application of comparative phylogeography and population genomics can guide policymakers in their decision‐making process during MPAn design. We detected priority areas for conservation in Antarctica, including the South Orkney Islands and the WAP, providing strong evidence for the implementation of the Domain 1 MPA.
This study investigates the contribution of external trunk morphology and posture to running performance in an evolutionary framework. It has been proposed that the evolution from primitive to derived features of torso shape involved changes from a mediolaterally wider into a narrower, and antero-posteriorly deeper into a shallower, more lightly built external trunk configuration, possibly in relation to habitat-related changes in locomotor and running behaviour. In this context we produced experimental data to address the hypothesis that medio-laterally narrow and antero-posteriorly shallow torso morphologies favour endurance running capacities. We used 3D geometric morphometrics to relate external 3D trunk shape of trained, young male volunteers (N = 27) to variation in running velocities during different workloads determined at 45–50%, 70% and 85% of heart rate reserve (HRR) and maximum velocity. Below 85% HRR no relationship existed between torso shape and running velocity. However, at 85% HRR and, more clearly, at maximum velocity, we found highly statistically significant relations between external torso shape and running performance. Among all trained subjects those with a relatively narrow, flat torso, a small thoracic kyphosis and a more pronounced lumbar lordosis achieved significantly higher running velocities. These results support the hypothesis that external trunk morphology relates to running performance. Low thoracic kyphosis with a flatter ribcage may affect positively respiratory biomechanics, while increased lordosis affects trunk posture and may be beneficial for lower limb biomechanics related to leg return. Assuming that running workload at 45–50% HRR occurs within aerobic metabolism, our results may imply that external torso shape is unrelated to the evolution of endurance running performance.
Rodents gnaw bones to wear down their upper and lower incisors, which grow continuously. These gnawing marks are conspicuous and have long been identified in the fossil record. Archaeological taphonomy studies link modifications made by rodents to weathered and dried bones, while forensic taphonomy indicate that rodents also act on fresh corpses, consuming flesh and other tissues as well as fresh bones. Although these two approaches are complementary, there is a lack of information on how rodents modify bones in states other than dry or fresh. This experimental study aims to fill this gap in the research, describing modifications left by rodents (Mus musculus) to fresh, boiled, carbonised, calcined, and dry bones. Our results indicate that rodents modify bones regardless of their state, and that the most intense gnawing occurs on bones containing fat. During the study, the pedestalling phenomena emerged as a characteristic modification produced only on fresh and boiled samples. We applied our results to the study of the human remains from El Mirador Cave (Atapuerca, Spain) and identified pedestalling for the first time in the archaeological record. This modification may have been favoured by the presence of fatty bones laying exposed on the surface of the site.
Subterranean ecosystems are among the most widespread environments on Earth, yet we still have poor knowledge of their biodiversity. To raise awareness of subterranean ecosystems, the essential services they provide, and their unique conservation challenges, 2021 and 2022 were designated International Years of Caves and Karst. As these ecosystems have traditionally been overlooked in global conservation agendas and multilateral agreements, a quantitative assessment of solution-based approaches to safeguard subterranean biota and associated habitats is timely. This assessment allows researchers and practitioners to understand the progress made and research needs in subterranean ecology and management. We conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed and grey literature focused on subterranean ecosystems globally (terrestrial, freshwater, and saltwater systems), to quantify the available evidence-base for the effectiveness of conservation interventions. We selected 708 publications from the years 1964 to 2021 that discussed, recommended, or implemented 1,954 conservation interventions in subterranean ecosystems. We noted a steep increase in the number of studies from the 2000s while, surprisingly, the proportion of studies quantifying the impact of conservation interventions has steadily and significantly decreased in recent years. The effectiveness of 31% of conservation interventions has been tested statistically. We further highlight that 64% of the reported research occurred in the Palearctic and Nearctic biogeographic regions. Assessments of the effectiveness of conservation interventions were heavily biased towards indirect measures (monitoring and risk assessment), a limited sample of organisms (mostly arthropods and bats), and more accessible systems (terrestrial caves). Our results indicate that most conservation science in the field of subterranean biology does not apply a rigorous quantitative approach, resulting in sparse evidence for the effectiveness of interventions. This raises the important question of how to make conservation efforts more feasible to implement, cost-effective, and long-lasting. Although there is no single remedy, we propose a suite of potential solutions to focus our efforts better towards increasing statistical testing and stress the importance of standardising study reporting to facilitate meta-analytical exercises. We also provide a database summarising the available literature, which will help to build quantitative knowledge about interventions likely to yield the greatest impacts depending upon the subterranean species and habitats of interest. We view this as a starting point to shift away from the widespread tendency of recommending conservation interventions based on anecdotal and expert-based information rather than scientific evidence, without quantitatively testing their effectiveness.
The taxonomic status and subgeneric arrangement of the genus Eurymeloe have been debated for decades. In this work, the internal taxonomy of Eurymeloe is redefined by recognising three subgenera: Eurymeloe for the former Eurymeloe brevicollis species group, Coelomeloe for Eurymeloe tuccia, and Bolognaia Ruiz, García-París, Sánchez-Vialas & Recuero, subgen. nov., to accommodate the species of the formerly recognised Eurymeloe rugosus species group. Additionally, a new species of the newly described subgenus Bolognaia is described from the Iberian Peninsula based on molecular and morphological traits. The new species, Eurymeloe (Bolognaia) orobates sp. nov., can be distinguished from all other species of Eurymeloe by the following combination of morphological traits: dispersed brownish setae over the body that are arranged in small tufts on the abdominal terga; a small, very transverse pronotum that presents a unique macrosculpture; a deeply and densely punctured integument of the head and pronotum; and the very rugose elytra. The characters displayed by E. orobates suggest that the species groups that were previously defined and recognised for Eurymeloe, and that are now integrated within the newly erected subgenus Bolognaia, are non-monophyletic.
Pseudoryzomys simplex (Winge 1887) is a small to medium sized terrestrial oryzomyine rodent (Cricetidae, Sigmodontinae) widely distributed in humid environments of tropical and subtropical lowlands of South America with a marked rainy season. The occurrence of this species in the south-central Pampean region between 4700 and 200 ka cal BP was originally associated with some warm climatic episodes. A later hypothesis points out that P. simplex was a typical element of the Humid Pampa subregion during this period, whose distribution was retracted to the north due to the strong anthropic modifications in the area. To corroborate these hypotheses, the niche of occurrence of P. simplex was calculated to analyse the preferred climatic conditions of contemporaneous and fossil record of the species since 4700 ka cal BP. The derived climatic niche of P. simplex shows a marked preference for areas with seasonality precipitation patterns and tropical/subtropical conditions. Geographical estimations and climatic niches derived revealed a moderate overlapping between contemporaneous and Pampean late-Holocene projection, which in no case includes the localities where fossil data were found. Although a better comprehension of the ecological requirements of the species is necessary to discard a shift in its realized climatic niche, it is probable that P. simplex is able to maintain stable populations under similar conditions to the ones represented by fossil occurrences. The distribution of the species in the Humid Pampa subregion is probably affected by non-climatic factors today which are reducing its contemporaneous realized climatic niche and distorting the derived climatic niches obtained. These results support that this species cannot be considered a reliable palaeoclimatic indicator of more Brazilian conditions in the Humid Pampean subregion during the past.
Tok‐tokkies are one of the most iconic lineages within Tenebrionidae. In addition to containing some of the largest darkling beetles, this tribe is recognized for its remarkable form of sexual communication known as substrate tapping. Nevertheless, the phylogenetic relationships within the group remain poorly understood. This study investigates the usefulness of female terminalia morphology for delimiting Sepidiini and reconstructing relationships among it. Data on the structure of the ovipositors, genital tubes and spicula ventrali have been generated for >200 species representing 28 Pimeliinae tribes. This dataset was used in a comparative analysis at the subfamilial level, which resulted in recognition of several unique features of tok‐tokkie terminalia. Additionally, new features linking phenotypically challenging tribes also were recovered (Cryptochilini + Idisiini + Pimeliini). Secondly, 23 characters linked to the structure of female terminalia were defined for tok‐tok beetles. Cladistic analysis demonstrates the nonmonophyletic nature of most of the recognized subtribes. The morphological dataset was analysed separately and in combination with available molecular data (CAD, Wg, cox1, cox2, 28S). All obtained topologies were largely congruent, supporting the following changes: Palpomodina Kamiński & Gearner subtr.n. is erected to accommodate the genera Namibomodes and Palpomodes; Argenticrinis and Bombocnodulus are transferred from Hypomelina to Molurina; 153 species and subspecies previously classified within Psammodes are distributed over three separate genera (Mariazofia Kamiński nom.n., Piesomera stat.r., Psammodes sens.n.). Psammodes sklodowskae Kamiński & Gearner sp.n. is described. Preliminary investigation of the ovipositor of Mariazofia basuto (Koch) comb.n. was carried out with the application of microcomputed tomography, illuminating the muscular system as a reliable reference point for recognizing homologous elements in highly modified ovipositors.
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133 members
Iker Irisarri
  • Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology
Manuel J. Salesa
  • Departamento de Paleobiología
Fernando Valladares
  • Biogeography and Global Change
Madrid, Spain