Are subcortical rove beetles truly Holarctic? An integrative taxonomic revision of north temperate Quedionuchus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Staphylininae)


The recognition of Holarctic species, those shared between Nearctic and Palaearctic regions, often implies continuous or recent events of gene flow across the 85-km-wide Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia. During the Pleistocene (2.8–0.012 Mya), the Bering land bridge has provided frequent episodes of continuous, tundra habitat across this barrier, while the taiga forests of the northern hemisphere has been separated for much longer, at least 5.4 Mya. This more ancient divergence has led to allopatric speciation in nearly all forest-specialized organisms, including all tree species, and casts doubt on the taxonomic validity of the few subcortical beetle species that are considered to be Holarctic. Here we test the apparent Holarctic distribution of one such species, the morphologically variable rove beetle Quedionuchus plagiatus. Drawing upon morphological and molecular evidence, including morphometric analysis of male genitalia and phylogenetic and cluster analyses of DNA barcodes, we demonstrate that species-level diversity has been greatly underestimated in this lineage and conclude that none of its members are Holarctic. We propose complete allopatric divergence across Beringia in obligate forest beetles and discuss the role of biological constraints as barriers to Holarctic geneflow. We describe Quedionuchus caucasicus Brunke, sp. nov., Q. deceptor Brunke sp. nov., Quedionuchus gilaensis Brunke sp. nov., and Quedionuchus yunnanensis Brunke sp. nov.; revalidate Quedionuchus glaber (O. Müller) and Quedionuchus longipennis (Mannerheim); and propose the following: Quedius longipennis Mannerheim, 1846 = Quedius rufipennis Mäklin, 1853 syn. nov. (previous synonym of Q. plagiatus Mannerheim); Staphylinus glaber O. Müller, 1776 = Quedius planatus Sharp, 1884 syn. nov.

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We thank all curators mentioned in the ‘Methods’ section for the opportunity to study material under their care. D. Carruthers-Lay and A. Cyr (CNC) carefully databased all specimens and performed the morphological measurements. We thank J. Hsiung (CNC) for the detailed line drawings of male genitalia and female tergite X. AJB acknowledges his A-base funding (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) from projects J-002276 and J-001849 (Systematics of Beneficial Insects). We thank A. Shavrin and A. Ryvkin for their critical help with georeferencing Russian localities.

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Brunke, A.J., Salnitska, M., Hansen, A.K. et al. Are subcortical rove beetles truly Holarctic? An integrative taxonomic revision of north temperate Quedionuchus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Staphylininae). Org Divers Evol (2019).

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  • Beringia
  • Allopatric speciation
  • Morphometrics
  • CO1 gene