Date of Award

August 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Member

Michael S. Caterino

Committee Member

Peter H. Adler

Committee Member

Antonio Baeza

Committee Member

Saara DeWalt


The tropical Andes are a biodiversity hotspot for numerous evolutionary lineages. Allopatric speciation and paleoclimatical events are the major drivers for species diversification in the tropics, especially for páramo species which show high diversity and endemicity. This dissertation elucidates speciation and diversification patterns of widely distributed species of beetles from isolated páramo patches across Ecuador, to provide insight into basic evolutionary processes for Andean insect species. Sampling targeted 17 sites in the páramo ecosystem (3500 – 4000 m), with pitfall trapping, hand collecting and leaf litter sampling. One nuclear and one mitochondrial marker were used to assess the genetic diversity of four beetle lineages within the ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) and ant-loving beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Pselaphinae), through a combination of phylogenetics, divergence time estimates and population genetics. The analysis of beetle lineages from páramo reveals there is no general pattern of diversification in beetles from páramo. The effect of mountain isolation varies across ground beetles and ant–loving beetles, where the distribution of the genetic diversity for each beetle lineage appears to be influenced by several factors such as divergence time, range size, dispersal capability, and geological and paleoclimatical events that occurred in the Miocene–Pleistocene, as recorded for plant lineages from páramo.



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