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Syst Biol. 2007 Feb;56(1):97-112.

Multistate characters and diet shifts: evolution of Erotylidae (Coleoptera).

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New Zealand Arthropod Collection, Landcare Research, drivate Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand.


The dominance of angiosperms has played a direct role in the diversification of insects, especially Coleoptera. The shift to angiosperm feeding from other diets is likely to have increased the rate of speciation in Phytophaga. However, Phytophaga is only one of many hyperdiverse lineages of beetles and studies of host-shift proliferation have been somewhat limited to groups that primitively feed on plants. We have studied the diet-diverse beetle family Erotylidae (Cucujoidea) to determine if diet is correlated with high diversification rates and morphological evolution by first reconstructing ancestral diets and then testing for associations between diet and species number and diet and ovipositor type. A Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of morphological data that was previously published in Leschen (2003, Pages 1-108 in Fauna of New Zealand, 47; 53 terminal taxa and 1 outgroup, 120 adult characters and 1 diet character) yielded results that are similar to the parsimony analyses of Leschen (2003). Ancestral state reconstructions based on Bayesian and parsimony inference were largely congruent and both reconstructed microfungal feeding (the diet of the outgroup Biphyllidae) at the root of the Erotylidae tree. Shifts among microfungal, saprophagous, and phytophagous diets were most frequent. The largest numbers of species are contained in lineages that are macrofungal feeders (subfamily Erotylinae) and phytophagous (derived Languriinae), although the Bayesian posterior predictive tests of character state correlation were unable to detect any significant associations. Ovipositor morphology correlated with diet (i.e., acute forms were associated with phytophagy and unspecialized forms were associated with a mixture of diets). Although there is a general trend to increased species number associated with the shift from microfungal feeding to phytophagy (based on character mapping and mainly restricted to shifts in Languriinae), there is a large radiation of taxa feeding on macrofungi. Cycad feeding is scattered in more deeply diverged taxa and may have preceded the evolution of angiosperm feeding in some groups. Preliminary analysis of diet mapped onto higher beetle phylogenies suggests that about half of the major Coleoptera lineages may have had fungus-feeding ancestors. We discuss the roles of stochastic models and prior distributions of the reconstruction of ancestral character states in the context of the current data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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