PhD defense: Josh Jenkins Shaw

South temperate amblyopinine rove beetles and more: systematic and evolutionary studies of Staphylinidae

Supervisor: Dr. Alexey Solodovnikov, Natural History Museum of Denmark

Dr. Adam Brunke, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa (opponent)
Dr. Ignacio Ribera, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, Barcelona, Spain (opponent)
Dr. Lars Vilhelmsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark (chairman)

The research contained in this thesis explores the phylogenetic systematics of a hitherto very poorly known group of predatory rove beetles, the subtribe Amblyopinina (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). This subtribe comprises one of the predominant rove beetle groups in the south temperate continents and islands where they are abundant in forest leaf litter and other terrestrial habitats. Some of them have a unique, mutualistic relationship with mammals in the Neotropics and Australia, where they prey on ectoparasites in the fur and nests of their hosts. The highly disjunct distribution, occurrence on numerous large and small, more and less isolated landmasses, mutualistic relationship with mammals in some and prevalence as a poorly known component of austral biodiversity made Amblyopinina an important target for phylogenetic, systematic and biogeographic investigations, some of which are presented here.

The first molecular phylogeny of Amblyopinina is provided. It gives an overall insight into the internal relationships of the group, reveals interesting biogeographic patterns and suggests multiple origins of mammal association within the subtribe. In connection with the revision of the Australian mammal-associated genus Myotyphlus a review of the amblyopinine mammal symbiosis is made. Morphology-based phylogenetic analyses were used to demonstrate that a peculiar new genus and species of Staphylinini rove beetle, Devilleferus brunkei from the high Andes is a sister group to all other Amblyopinina. A systematic review of the entire Staphylinini rove beetle fauna of Lord Howe Island is made which include the description of two new species for Amblyopinina and implementation of several other taxonomic changes. The review highlighted the strong affinity of the Lord Howe Island fauna with the Australian mainland and the biogeographic potential of Amblyopinina.