Most aquatic beetles in the family Dytiscidae are tightly associated either with running (lotic) or stagnant (lentic) water bodies. The range size of lotic species is known to be, on average, much smaller than that of lentic species, presumably as a result of differences in dispersal strategies in each habitat type. We explored possible effects of these differences on clade evolution and speciation rates by comparing species-level phylogenies based on cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and 16S rRNA mitochondrial genes for two genera, the lentic Ilybius and the lotic Deronectes. The expectation that species turnover is higher in lotic lineages due to their lower dispersal propensity compared to lentic species was not strongly supported. Deronectes displays a higher frequency of recent splits than Ilybius, consistent with the hypothesis, but the difference was not significant compared to expected patterns under a constant speciation rate null model. Similarly, when the degree of sympatry was plotted against relative node age, more allopatric splits were evident in the lentic Deronectes, suggesting a slower rate of range movement since speciation, but the differences were not significant. We discuss two explanations for our failure to detect differences between the two clades. First, current methods for analysing species-level phylogenies may be sensitive to taxonomic and sampling artefacts. Second, lentic and lotic clades may indeed display similar levels of species turnover despite occupying very different habitats at different spatial scales. More work is needed to investigate the effects of population level processes and spatial scale on macroevolutionary dynamics.
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