Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Lineage-specific late pleistocene expansion of an endemic subtropical gossamer-wing damselfly, Euphaea formosa, in Taiwan

Jen-Pan Huang12 and Chung-Ping Lin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Life Science & Center for Tropical Ecology and Biodiversity, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan 40704

2 Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-94

Published: 12 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Pleistocene glacial oscillations have significantly affected the historical population dynamics of temperate taxa. However, the general effects of recent climatic changes on the evolutionary history and genetic structure of extant subtropical species remain poorly understood. In the present study, phylogeographic and historical demographic analyses based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences were used. The aim was to investigate whether Pleistocene climatic cycles, paleo-drainages or mountain vicariance of Taiwan shaped the evolutionary diversification of a subtropical gossamer-wing damselfly, Euphaea formosa.

Results

E. formosa populations originated in the middle Pleistocene period (0.3 Mya) and consisted of two evolutionarily independent lineages. It is likely that they derived from the Pleistocene paleo-drainages of northern and southern Minjiang, or alternatively by divergence within Taiwan. The ancestral North-central lineage colonized northwestern Taiwan first and maintained a slowly growing population throughout much of the early to middle Pleistocene period. The ancestral widespread lineage reached central-southern Taiwan and experienced a spatial and demographic expansion into eastern Taiwan. This expansion began approximately 30,000 years ago in the Holocene interglacial period. The ancestral southern expansion into eastern Taiwan indicates that the central mountain range (CMR) formed a barrier to east-west expansion. However, E. formosa populations in the three major biogeographic regions (East, South, and North-Central) exhibit no significant genetic partitions, suggesting that river drainages and mountains did not form strong geographical barriers against gene flow among extant populations.

Conclusions

The present study implies that the antiquity of E. formosa's colonization is associated with its high dispersal ability and larval tolerance to the late Pleistocene dry grasslands. The effect of late Pleistocene climatic changes on the subtropical damselfly's historical demography is lineage-specific, depending predominantly on its colonization history and geography. It is proposed that the Riss and Würm glaciations in the late Pleistocene period had a greater impact on the evolutionary diversification of subtropical insular species than the last glacial maximum (LGM).