Speciation Patterns of Beetle in the Highlands of Ecuador

Monday, March 14, 2016
Oak Forest Ballroom Prefunction Area (Sheraton Raleigh Hotel)
Sofia Muņoz-Tobar , Entomology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Páramo ecosystem exhibits high diversity of species, where allopatric speciation appears to be the main driver for species diversification. The present research aims to elucidate speciation patterns of widely distributed species of beetles present in isolated páramo patches across highland Ecuador. Sampling, through pitfall traps and hand collecting, will target 16 sites in the páramo ecosystem (3500 – 4000 m).  So far, 12 sites have been sampled and a total of 894 specimens were collected during the first fieldwork session. Ground beetles and weevils appear to be most abundant. Five widely distributed species of ground beetles where identified and preliminary data from COI sequences shows that populations of Dyscolus alpinus (Chaudoir, 1878) are still interconnected. In this species there are 14 haplotypes, with one dominant haplotype in the northern populations. Further fieldwork is needed to determine the pattern of speciation through genetic assessment. Future fieldwork will be conducted on June- July 2016, when the remaining sites will be surveyed. Through phylobeographic analyses we expect to determine sites with high diversification for highland beetles.