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Data from: Hidden island endemic species, and their implications for cryptic speciation within soil arthropods

Cite this dataset

Andújar Fernández, Carmelo et al. (2022). Data from: Hidden island endemic species, and their implications for cryptic speciation within soil arthropods [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: Specialisation to the soil environment is expected to constrain the spatial scale of diversification within animal lineages. In this context, the existence of flightless arthropod lineages, adapted to soil environments, but with broad geographic ranges, represent something of an anomaly. Here we investigate the diversification process within one such ‘anomalous’ soil specialist: Geomitopsis franzi Coiffait, 1978, an eyeless and flightless beetle species strongly adapted to the endogean environment but distributed across several oceanic islands.

Location: Canary Islands

Taxon: Geomitopsis (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae)

Methods: We performed an integrative study, including molecular phylogenetics, population genomics, and morphometry. Four DNA regions (two mitochondrial and two nuclear) were amplified and sequenced for 159 specimens from 58 localities sampled across five islands for phylogenetic analyses, and a dated phylogenetic tree was obtained using a mitogenome dataset. ddRAD-seq data was generated to evaluate mtDNA lineages in sympatry against the biological species concept.

Results: We found high levels of genetic differentiation (>8% COI gene divergence) among populations from different islands and among geographically coherent lineages within single islands. Lineages within Tenerife presented significant patterns of isolation by distance, with ddRAD-seq providing evidence that lineages represent biological species. Morphometric analyses revealed limited variation, with most lineages lacking diagnostic characters.

Main conclusions: Geomitopsis franzi is comprised of at least seven lineages that merit consideration as biological species, and is best considered as a complex of cryptic species. The limited morphological variation across these lineages is consistent with adaptation to the endogean environment placing strong constraints on morphological change. The evolution of cryptic species should be favoured when such constraints are coupled with limited dispersal ability, which characterises G. franzi, and is a trait that broadly characterises the soil mesofauna. We suggest that cryptic species diversity is likely to be a recurrent feature across soil adapted arthropod species with range sizes that appear inconsistent whith a low potential for dispersal.


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Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Award: CGL2015-74178-JIN

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Award: CGL2017-85718-P