- Symbiodinium dinoflagellates in soritid Foraminiferans
- Molecular phylogeny of vertebrates
- Molecular systematics of Foraminifera
- Origin and Evolution of Bats from the West Indian Ocean
- Phylogenomics, micropaleontology, and molecular dating
- Phylogeny and biogeography of an insular endemic moth radiation
- Phylogeny of Zoanthids
- Updating the tree of life: large-scale sequencing of key protist taxa
Phylogeny and biogeography of an insular endemic moth radiation
The recently described endemic genus Galagete (Lepidoptera: Autostichidae) is a group of small moths that represents the largest radiation of Lepidoptera so far found in the Galápagos Islands. With a total of 12 species, the Galagete radiation is comparable in size to that of Darwin's finches. We are conducting a phylogenetic analysis using morphological and molecular characters (two mitochondrial genes: COI and COII, and two nuclear genes: EF-1alpha and Wingless) to obtain a solid phylogeny of the genus Galagete that can serve as a comparative basis for other analyses on the colonization pattern, speciation processes, time of divergence, etc.
Figure 1: Galagete griseonana Schmitz & Landry 2005 endemic to the island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos is the smallest member of the genus with a wingspan of about 6.5 mm.
Little is known about their ecology apart from their scavenging feeding habits which are consistent with those of other Autostichidae. For example, recently the larva and pupa of G. protozona discovered in droppings of the Galapagos Land Iguana Conolophus subcristatus were described. Therefore, critical knowledge on Galagete is also missing and necessary for further inference regarding its conservation status or ecological role and importance.
This project will greatly improve the understanding of the speciation patterns in endemic island radiations. Because the respective ages of islands in such volcanic archipelagos are also generally reflected in their spatial distributions, occasional dispersal followed by speciation, all entirely post-island formation could produce a phylogenetic pattern comparable to that expected if speciation followed in tandem with island formation. Moreover, providing both classical and quantitative genetic data will allow a clean comparison with previous work on a variety of other Galapagos taxa. The results are promising to unravel the speciation processes and colonization scenarios involved in this endemic insular radiation.
people working on this subject: Patrick SCHMITZ.