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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Oct 27;363(1508):3427-37. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0112.

Diversification of New Zealand weta (Orthoptera: Ensifera: Anostostomatidae) and their relationships in Australasia.

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  • 1Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


New Zealand taxa from the Orthopteran family Anostostomatidae have been shown to consist of three broad groups, Hemiandrus (ground weta), Anisoura/Motuweta (tusked weta) and Hemideina-Deinacrida (tree-giant weta). The family is also present in Australia and New Caledonia, the nearest large land masses to New Zealand. All genera are endemic to their respective countries except Hemiandrus that occurs in New Zealand and Australia. We used nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data to study within genera and among species-level genetic diversity within New Zealand and to examine phylogenetic relationships of taxa in Australasia. We found the Anostostomatidae to be monophyletic within Ensifera, and justifiably distinguished from the Stenopelmatidae among which they were formerly placed. However, the New Zealand Anostostomatidae are not monophyletic with respect to Australian and New Caledonian species in our analyses. Two of the New Zealand groups have closer allies in Australia and one in New Caledonia. We carried out maximum-likelihood and Bayesian analyses to reveal several well supported subgroupings. Our analysis included the most extensive sampling to date of Hemiandrus species and indicate that Australian and New Zealand Hemiandrus are not monophyletic. We used molecular dating approaches to test the plausibility of alternative biogeographic hypotheses for the origin of the New Zealand anostostomatid fauna and found support for divergence of the main clades at, or shortly after, Gondwanan break-up, and dispersal across the Tasman much more recently.

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