Cryptic species, biogeographic complexity and the evolutionary history of the Ectemnorhinus group in the sub-Antarctic, including a description of Bothrometopus huntleyi, n. sp.

24 November 2011

The biogeography of the South Indian Ocean Province (SIP) biotas has long been controversial. Much of the discussion has been based on interpretation of species distributions, based on morphological or anatomical delimitations. However, molecular phylogenetic approaches elsewhere have recently shown that interpretations based solely on morphological data may be misleading. Nonetheless, few studies have employed molecular phylogenetic approaches to understand the biogeography of the SIP biotas. We do so here for the Ectemnorhinus group of genera, a monophyletic unit of weevils endemic to the region. We use mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I DNA sequence data to reconstruct relationships among 13 species and 22 populations in the genera Palirhoeus, Bothrometopus and Ectemnorhinus. On the basis of this analysis we find little support for separating the genus Palirhoeus from Bothrometopus, and little support for the morphologically-based species groups currently recognized within Bothrometopus. Using a molecular clock we show that dispersal among islands probably took place against the prevailing wind direction. These data also support a previous hypothesis of radiation of the epilithic genera Bothrometopus and Palirhoeus during the Pliocene/early Pleistocene, but reject the hypothesis that the genus Ectemnorhinus radiated following the last glacial maximum. We show that Bothrometopus parvulus (C.O. Waterhouse) on the Prince Edward Islands comprises two species that are not sister taxa.We name the second species Bothrometopus huntleyi n. sp. and provide a description thereof.