Climate is often considered to be an important, but indirect driver of speciation. Indeed, environmental factors may contribute to the formation of biodiversity, but to date this crucial relationship remains largely unexplored. Here we investigate the possible role of climate, geological factors, and biogeographical processes in the formation of a freshwater insect species group, the Chaetopteryx rugulosa species complex (Trichoptera) in the Western Balkans. We used multi-locus DNA sequence data to establish a dated phylogenetic hypothesis for the group. The comparison of the dated phylogeny with the geological history of the Western Balkans shows that lineage formation coincided with major past Earth surface and climatic events in the region. By reconstructing present-day habitat conditions (climate, bedrock geology), we show that the lineages of C. rugulosa species complex have distinct climatic but not bedrock geological niches. Without exception, all splits associated with Pliocene/Pleistocene transition led to independent, parallel split into ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ sister lineages. This indicates a non-random diversification on the C. rugulosa species complex associated with late Pliocene climate in the region. We interpreted the results as the diversification of the species complex were mainly driven by ecological diversification linked to past climate change, along with geographical isolation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science