Temporal patterns of diversification in Andean Eois, a species-rich clade of moths (Lepidoptera, Geometridae)


Patrick Strutzenberger, Department of Animal Biodiversity, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Wien, Austria. Tel.: +43 1 4277 57411; fax: +43 1 4277 9574; e-mail: patrick.strutzenberger@univie.ac.at


The timing of the origin of present day Neotropical animal diversity is still a matter of debate. For a long time, a preponderance of glacial (i.e. Pleistocene) radiations has been proposed. However, recent data from molecular clock studies indicate a preglacial origin for most of the examined taxa. We performed a fossil-calibrated molecular dating analysis of the genus Eois, which is a major component of one of the world’s most diverse assemblages of herbivorous insects. We found that diversification of Eois took place in the Miocene following a pattern best explained by density-dependent diversification. A strong slowdown of diversification towards the present was detected. Diversification of Eois does overlap with increased Andean uplift and diversification of the most commonly used host plant genus Piper. These findings match the patterns found for the majority of Neotropical tetrapods and for three other unrelated, ecologically different lepidopteran genera.