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Michat, Mariano C.; Balke, Michael (2018): Evolution of the Juan Fernandez diving beetle, Rhantus selkirki (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae). In: Zoologica Scripta, Vol. 47, No. 2: pp. 187-196
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Here we provide evidence that confinement in Robinson Crusoe Island (located about 660km west of continental Chile) over evolutionary time leads to strong morphological modifications in diving beetle (Dytiscidae) larvae. We analysed a large set of morphological larval characters for all currently recognised genera of Colymbetinae as a framework, to infer phylogenetic relationships within the large genus Rhantus Dejean, 1833 and, in particular, of the charismatic Juan Fernandez diving beetle, Rhantus selkirki Jach, Balke & Michat, 2015, comparing our results with a recent phylogeny of the Colymbetinae based on DNA sequence data. We suggest that adaptation to the island's particular habitats resulted in the reversal of certain characters of R.selkirki back to the plesiomorphic states. This may cause the species to be erroneously interpreted as more primitive' if only morphological characters are analysed. Confinement in the particular, shallow and barely vegetated aquatic habitats of Robinson Crusoe Island for a long time seems to have led to this divergent morphology, particularly in characters related to swimming ability such as several leg and urogomphal setae. In this way, R.selkirki larvae secondarily resemble those of some earlier diverging dytiscid lineages such as Agabinae and Copelatinae, which typically creep on the bottom of water bodies and do not swim well.