Portrait of author

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

Date: 17-12-2018    Supervisor: Alexey Solodovnikov

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 of the world where they are abundant in forest leaf litter and other terrestrial habitats. Of them, only two genera also occur throughout the northern hemisphere and on numerous, remote oceanic islands. Phylogenetically nested within the subtribe are a group of genera that 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. To build a framework for future research on amblyopinines in all directions, from the badly needed taxonomic exploration to biogeographic research, the first molecular phylogeny of this group is provided. It gives an overall insight into the internal relationships of Amblyopinina, 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. With molecular data for rove beetles still in its infancy but growing all the time, 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. Apart from this new taxon and two new species of Myotyphlus, the alpha-taxonomic component of the thesis is focused on one of the remote oceanic islands inhabited by amblyopinines. A systematic review of the entire Staphylinini rove beetle fauna of Lord Howe Island is made which included 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 amblyopines.