Paleoecological niche modeling of Epiophlebia (Epiophlebioptera: Epiophlebiidae) reveals continuous distribution during the Last Glacial Maximum


Disjunct biogeographic patterns of similar species remain enigmatic within evolutionary biology. Disparate distributions typically reflect species responses to major historical events including past climate change, tectonics, dispersal, and local extinction. Paleo-ecological niche modeling (PaleoENM) has proven useful in inferring the causes of disjunct distributions within charismatic and well-studied taxa including mammals, plants, and birds, but remains under-explored in insects. The relictual Asian dragonfly genus Epiophlebia (Suborder Epiophlebioptera: Epiophlebiidae) allows us a novel opportunity to explore PaleoENM in the context of disjunct distributions due to their endemism to the Japanese islands, Himalayas, China, and North Korea. The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential causes behind the modern distribution of Epiophlebia by inferring the historical range of these species within the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), thereby highlighting the utility of PaleoENM in the context of odonate biogeography. Our results indicate possible past routes of gene flow of Epiophlebia during the LGM due to high habitat suitability of the genus stretching from the Himalayas to Japan. Furthermore, our results predict several unsampled areas which have the potential to harbor new populations of the genus.

Issue section: Original Article