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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2003 Oct;29(1):115-9.

Out of South America? Additional evidence for a southern origin of melanopline grasshoppers.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UPRESA 8079 ESE Laboratoire d'Entomologie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 45 rue de Buffon 75005 Paris, France.


Molecular phylogenetic methods provide a useful tool for critically evaluating competing biogeographic hypotheses. This paper focuses on conjectures at the intercontinental level. An earlier phylogeographic study of the grasshopper subfamily Melanoplinae examined relationships among taxa occupying the Americas and Eurasia. The objective was to test which of three scenarios best described the subfamily's origins and patterns of intercontinental movement. It was tentatively proposed that the melanopline grasshoppers evolved somewhere in the Americas and spread to the Old World. The present article, by including additional Neotropical species, not only upholds that conjecture, but is able to identify South America as the site of origin. Phylogenetic analysis indicates a direction of dispersal: South America-->North America-->Eurasia, that is opposite to what was previously believed. This study also provides, for the first time, a preliminary molecular phylogeny of selected South American melanopline genera.

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