Simultaneous Quaternary radiations of three damselfly clades across the Holarctic

Am Nat. 2005 Apr;165(4):E78-107. doi: 10.1086/428682. Epub 2005 Feb 9.


If climate change during the Quaternary shaped the macroevolutionary dynamics of a taxon, we expect to see three features in its history: elevated speciation or extinction rates should date to this time, more northerly distributed clades should show greater discontinuities in these rates, and similar signatures of those effects should be evident in the phylogenetic and phylodemographic histories of multiple clades. In accordance with the role of glacial cycles, speciation rates increased in the Holarctic Enallagma damselflies during the Quaternary, with a 4.25x greater increase in a more northerly distributed clade as compared with a more southern clade. Finer-scale phylogenetic analyses of three radiating clades within the northern clade show similar, complex recent histories over the past 250,000 years to produce 17 Nearctic and four Palearctic extant species. All three are marked by nearly synchronous deep splits that date to approximately 250,000 years ago, resulting in speciation in two. This was soon followed by significant demographic expansions in at least two of the three clades. In two, these expansions seem to have preceded the radiations that have given rise to most of the current biodiversity. Each also produced species at the periphery of the clade's range. In spite of clear genetic support for reproductive isolation among almost all species, mtDNA signals of past asymmetric hybridization between species in different clades also suggest a role for the evolution of mate choice in generating reproductive isolation as species recolonized the landscape following deglaciation. These analyses suggest that recent climate fluctuations resulted in radiations driven by similar combinations of speciation processes acting in different lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Animals
  • Climate*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • Extinction, Biological
  • Fossils
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Haplotypes
  • Insecta / classification*
  • Insecta / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • DNA, Mitochondrial