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Mol Biol Evol. 2002 Oct;19(10):1706-16.

Recent diversification rates in North American tiger beetles estimated from a dated mtDNA phylogenetic tree.

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Department of Biological Sciences and NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, UK.


Species-level phylogenies derived from DNA sequence data provide a tool for estimating diversification rates and how these rates change over time, but to date there have been few empirical studies, particularly on insect groups. We use a densely sampled phylogenetic tree based on mitochondrial DNA to investigate diversification rates in the North American tiger beetles (genus Cicindela). Using node ages estimated from sequence data and calibrated by biogeographical evidence, we estimate an average per-lineage diversification rate of at least 0.22 +/- 0.08 species/Myr over the time interval since the most recent colonization that led to a radiation within the continent. In addition, we find evidence for a weak, recent increase in the net diversification rate. This is more consistent with a late Pleistocene increase in the speciation rate than with a constant rate of background extinction, but the results are sensitive to the dating method and taxon sampling. We discuss practical limitations to phylogenetic studies of diversification rates.

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