The evolution of fynbos-endemic Cephalelini leafhoppers specialising on Restionaceae

Wiese, Tobias Johannes (2014-04)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Knowledge of the diversity and evolutionary histories of insects in South Africa’s fynbos biome lags far behind what is known of the plant groups that make up this global biodiversity hotspot. To address this imbalance, I undertook a molecular phylogenetic study of fynbos-endemic Cephalelini leafhoppers that specialise on restios in the family Restionaceae. My phylogenetic results did not recover the South African Cephalelini as monophyletic, nor did I find monophyly of described species, but several monophyletic clades of species were found within Cephalelini. Furthermore, phylogenetic dating suggested that the divergence between South African and Australian Cephalelini post-dates Gondwanan vicariance, implying intercontinental extreme long distance dispersal of these insects ca. 5-11 MYA. Diversification within the Cephalelini is also much more recent than that of the Restionaceae hosts on which they specialise, negating the possibility of coevolution between plants and insects. Rather, analysis of phylogenetic conservatism of host use reveals that Cephalelini evolution has tracked the evolution of their Restionaceae hosts and that closely related insects feed on the same plant host tribes. A finer scale of tracking of host evolution (such as at the clade or genus level) is expected when taking into account how highly specific I find Cephalelini host use to be, but its absence might be explained by the recent divergence of Cephalelini relative to the age of Restionaceae. Analysis of conservatism of host use was also carried out using a phylogeny of the Restionaceae, and revealed that, overall, Cephalelini host use and avoidance have no phylogenetic bias, indicating many empty potential niches for Cephalelini, or alternately that host use is governed by factors which are phylogenetically unconstrained. Lastly, I also analysed the evolution of specialisation of Cephalelini and find no trend towards increased specialisation within the group, which is contrary to what is expected of the evolution of herbivorous insects. Overall, this study presents the first evidence of intercontinental dispersal of insect fauna between South Africa and Australia and as such highlights an unconsidered factor in the accumulation of faunal diversity in the fynbos biome. I find Cephalelini to be highly specialised in their host preference, but this pattern only becomes apparent at the tribal host level in the evolution of Cephalelini. Although Cephalelini are highly specialised, I find no evidence of evolution towards increasing specialisation within the group.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ons kennis van die evolusie van fynbosinsekte is redelik beperk vergeleke met hoe veel ons weet van die plante wat die merkwaardige diversiteit van die fynbos-bioom uitmaak. In `n poging om hierdie wanbalans reg te stel het ek `n molekulêr-evolusionêre studie onderneem van die fynbos-endemiese blaarspringer-groep Cephalelini, wat op Restionaceae-gasheerplante spesialiseer. Ons het drie geen-areas geamplifiseer vir filogeniekonstruksie en dateringsdoeleindes: insek-kern H3, insek- mitokondriaal COI en insek-simbiont Sulcia 16S. Met behulp van filogenetiese analise is bevind dat die Suid-Afrikaanse Cephalelini nie `n monofiletiese groep is nie en dat beskryfde spesies ook nie monofileties is nie, maar verskeie monofiletiese spesie-groepe is wel gevind. `n Oorkruis-gevalideerde dateringsoefening dui aan dat divergensie tussen Suid-Afrikaanse en Australiaanse Cephalelini meer onlangs as die verbrokkeling van Gondwana plaasgevind het, wat impliseer dat daar uitruiling van insekte tussen die kontinente oor die afgelope 5-11 MJ plaasgevind het. Die diversiteit van Cephalelini het ook veel meer onlangs ontstaan as dié van hulle Restionacaea-gashere wat beteken dat ko-evolusie in die eng sin nie moontlik is nie. ‘n Ontleding van die evolusie van gasheer-keuse deur Cephalelini dui wel aan dat Cephalelini-evolusie die patron van hul Restionaceae-gashere volg en dat naverwante Cephalelini dieselfde stam van Restionaceae as gashere verkies. Die bevinding dat die Cephalelini hoogs gespesialiseerd is in hulle gasheer-keuses lei ‘n mens tot die verwagting dat die evolusie van Cephalelini meer getrou die evolusie van hulle gashere sal volg as wat wel die geval is (dalk op die vlak van groep of genus), maar die relatiewe jeugdigheid van die Cephalelini vergeleke met die ouderdom van die Restionaceae is moontlik die rede hiervoor. Analise van gasheer-keuse is ook uitgevoer op `n filogenie van die Restionaceae wat aantoon dat daar nie ‘n beperking van verwantskappe is tussen gashere wat verkies of verwerp word nie, wat daarop dui dat daar `n menigte nisse is wat oënskynlik onbenut is, of dat Cephalelini gasheer-keuse bepaal word deur `n Restionaceae-eienskappe wat nie filogeneties beperk is nie. Laastens het ek die evolusie van spesialisering deur Cephalelini ontleed, maar geen neiging tot toenemende spesialisering binne die groep gevind nie, wat onverwags is in die lig van vorige studies. As `n geheel bied hierdie studie die eerste bewys van die uitruiling van insek-fauna tussen die Suid-Afrikaanse fynbos-bioom en ander kontinente, wat `n onopgetekende invloed op die diversiteit van diere in die fynbos is. Cephalelini is `n hoogs gespesialiseerde groep insekte, maar uit `n filogenetiese perspektief word dit eers waargeneem op die vlak van gasheerstam. Ten spyte van hulle hoë vlak van spesialisering het ek geen bewys gevind van `n toename daarin binne die evolusie van die groep nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86400
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