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Biol Lett. 2008 Apr 23;4(2):195-9. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0575.

Out of Hawaii: the origin and biogeography of the genus Scaptomyza (Diptera: Drosophilidae).

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Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 117 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


The Hawaiian Archipelago is the most isolated island system on the planet and has been the subject of evolutionary research for over a century. The largest radiation of species in Hawaii is the Hawaiian Drosophilidae, a group of approximately 1000 species. Dispersal to isolated island systems like Hawaii is rare and the resultant flora and fauna shows high disharmony with mainland communities. The possibility that some lineages may have originated in Hawaii and subsequently 'escaped' to diversify on continental landmasses is expected to be rarer still. We present phylogenetic analysis of 134 partially sequenced mitochondrial genomes of Drosophilidae (approx. 1.3 Mb of sequence total) to address major aspects of adaptive radiation and dispersal in Hawaii. We show that the genus Scaptomyza, a group that accounts for approximately one-third of the species-level diversity of Drosophilidae in the Hawaiian Islands, originated in Hawaii, diversified there, and subsequently colonized a number of island and continental landmasses elsewhere on the globe. We propose that a combination of small body size, rapid generation time and unique ecological and physiological adaptations have allowed this genus to effectively disperse and diversify.

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