Eur. J. Entomol. 110 (4): 689-697, 2013 | 10.14411/eje.2013.092

Patterns of hind-wing degeneration in Japanese riffle beetles (Coleoptera: Elmidae)

Masakazu HAYASHI1, Simon D. SONG2, Teiji SOTA*,2
1 Hoshizaki Green Foundation, Izumo, Shimane, 691-0076, Japan; e-mail: hgf-haya@green-f.or.jp
2 Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8502, Japan; e-mail: sota@terra.zool.kyoto-u.ac.jp

We conducted a molecular phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I and nuclear 28S rRNA gene sequences of species of Japanese elmids (23 species from 12 genera) and examined the hind-wings of 24 species in order to determine the incidence of hind-wing degeneration among species and the presence of dimorphic species with respect to hind-wing degeneration. Based on the molecular phylogenetic analysis, we determined that the previously separated winged and wingless species, Stenelmis vulgaris and S. miyamotoi, and Leptelmis gracilis and L. parallela, are two forms of the same species. Of the 24 species whose hind wings were studied, we found apterous (3 species of Zaitzeviaria), brachypterous (2 species of each of Optioservus and Paramacronychus) and dimorphic species (2 species as above) in separate clades of the phylogeny. These were the smallest or medium-sized species. Dimorphic species occurred in mid- to downstream areas and used reeds and wood as substrates. The percentage of species with hind-wing degeneration (wingless or dimorphic) was high among the species (29%) studied compared to the perceived percentage for temperate beetles (<10%). Thus, we found that the degeneration of hind wings has occurred repeatedly in these elmid species. However, we identified only ambiguous habitat and life history correlates of hind-wing degeneration, and the adaptive significance of hind-wing degeneration in these species of elmids remains unclear.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Elmidae, aquatic beetle, body shape, body size, dimorphism, flightlessness

Received: December 19, 2012; Accepted: April 23, 2013; Prepublished online: October 1, 2013; Published: December 1, 2013

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