|Hemp, C; Kehl, S; Schultz, O; Wägele, W; Hemp, A: Climatic fluctuations and topography as motor for speciation: case study on Parepistaurus Karsch, 1896 (Orthoptera: Acrididae, Coptacridinae), Systematic Entomology, 40(1), 17–34 (2015), doi:10.1111/syen.12092|
Mechanisms of speciation of flightless grasshoppers in mountainous and coastal EastAfrica are inferred considering (i) phylogenies estimated with a combination of molecular markers (16S rRNA locus, COI and H3), (ii) ecological data and (iii) the geographic distribution of Parepistaurus species. The study suggests that coastal taxa of Parepistaurus belong to ancestral lineages from which evolved the high diversity of species found in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya, which are geologically ancient mountain formations. Network analyses and a molecular clock approach, calibrated with the geological age of the volcanoes, suggested that speciation was boosted by climatic fluctuations affecting large areas of East Africa. With the aridification beginning 2.8Ma, forest taxa were isolated due to forest fragmentation and populations were separated by extended grasslands, which are avoided by Parepistaurus species. However, a humid period between 2.7 and 2.5Ma triggered a spread of coastal taxa along the Eastern Arc Mountains. Forests expanded again and riparian vegetation along rivers draining into the Indian Ocean probably served as corridors for the dispersal of coastal taxa to the hinterland. The inland volcanoes such as Mount Kilimanjaro are therefore good timemarkers because their geological age is known, limiting the available time for speciation processes of mountainous Parepistaurus in the area to a maximum of about 1–2 Ma. A third humid but cold period between 1.1 and 0.9Ma probably further boosted the spread of several flightless and montane-adapted Orthoptera taxa.