Phylogeny of world stag beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) reveals a Gondwanan origin of Darwin’s stag beetle


S.I. Kim and B.D. Farrell. 2015. “Phylogeny of world stag beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) reveals a Gondwanan origin of Darwin’s stag beetle.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 86, Pp. 35-48. Publisher's Version


 Stag beetles (family Lucanidae Latreille, 1804) are one of the earliest branching lineages of scarab beetles that are characterized by the striking development of the male mandibles. Despite stag beetles' popularity among traditional taxonomists and amateur collectors, there has been almost no study of lucanid relationships and evolution. Entomologists, including Jeannel (1942), have long recognized resemblance between the austral stag beetles of the tribes Chiasognathini, Colophonini, Lamprimini, Pholidotini, Rhyssonotini, and Streptocerini, but this hypothesis of their close relationship across the continents has never been tested. To gain further insight into lucanid phylogeny and biogeography, we reconstructed the first molecular phylogeny of world stag beetles using DNA sequences from mitochondrial 16S rDNA, nuclear 18S and 28S rDNA, and the nuclear protein-coding (NPC) gene wingless for 93 lucanid species representing all extant subfamilies and 24 out of the 27 tribes, together with 14 representative samples of other early branching scarabaeoid families and two staphyliniform beetle families as outgroups. Both Bayesian inference (BI) and maximum likelihood inference (MLI) strongly supported the monophyly of Lucanidae sensu lato that includes Diphyllostomatidae. Within Lucanidae sensu stricto, the subfamilies Lucaninae and Lampriminae appeared monophyletic under both methods of phylogenetic inferences; however, Aesalinae and Syndesinae were found to be polyphyletic. A time-calibrated phylogeny based on five fossil data estimated the origin of crown group Lucanidae as circa 160 million years ago (MYA). Divergence between the Neotropical and Australasian groups of the Chiasognathini was estimated to be circa 47MYA, with the South African Colophonini branching off from the ancient Chiasognathini lineage around 87MYA. Another Gondwanan relationship was recovered between the Australasian Eucarteria and the Neotropical Casignetus, which diverged circa 58MYA. Lastly, as Jeannel's hypothesis predicted, divergence within Lampriminae between the Australasian Lamprima and the Neotropical Streptocerus was estimated to be circa 37MYA. The split of these lineages were generally concordant with the pattern of continental break-up of the super-continent Gondwana, and our biogeographic reconstructions based on the dispersal-extinction-cladogenesis model (DEC) corroborate our view that the divergences in these austral lineages were caused by vicariance events following the Gondwanan break-up. In addition, the phylogenetic position and geographic origin of the Hawaiian genus Apterocyclus was revealed for the first time. Overall, our results provide the framework toward studying lucanid relationships and divergence time estimates, which allowed for more accurate biogeographic explanations and discussions on ancestral lucanids and the evolutionary origin of the enlarged male mandibles.

Last updated on 04/19/2016