Diversification in a fluctuating island setting: rapid radiation of Ohomopterus ground beetles in the Japanese Islands

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Oct 27;363(1508):3377-90. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0111.


The Japanese Islands have been largely isolated from the East Asian mainland since the Early Pleistocene, allowing the diversification of endemic lineages. Here, we explore speciation rates and historical biogeography of the ground beetles of the subgenus Ohomopterus (genus Carabus) based on nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences. Ohomopterus diverged into 15 species during the Pleistocene. The speciation rate was 1.92 Ma(-1) and was particularly fast (2.37 Ma(-1)) in a group with highly divergent genitalia. Speciation occurred almost solely within Honshu, the largest island with complex geography. Species diversity is highest in central Honshu, where closely related species occur parapatrically and different-sized species co-occur. Range expansion of some species in the past has resulted in such species assemblages. Introgressive hybridization, at least for mitochondrial DNA, has occurred repeatedly between species in contact, but has not greatly disturbed species distinctness. Small-island populations of some species were separated from main-island populations only after the last glacial (or the last interglacial) period, indicating that island isolation had little role in speciation. Thus, the speciation and formation of the Ohomopterus assemblage occurred despite frequent opportunities for secondary contact and hybridization and the lack of persistent isolation. This radiation was achieved without substantial ecological differentiation, but with marked differentiation in mechanical agents of reproductive isolation (body size and genital morphology).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Coleoptera / anatomy & histology
  • Coleoptera / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Demography*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genitalia / anatomy & histology
  • Geography
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Japan
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Mitochondrial