The Aderidae, commonly known as the puppet beetles, consists of approximately 1,000 species parsed into forty-two genera and inhabit all continents except Antarctica. These beetles are intriguing from a natural history perspective as many of the species exhibit sexual dimorphism and several inhabit cave systems. The Australian genus Megaxenus Lawrence is especially interesting as the larvae of these beetles live within termite nests and acquire nutrients from the termite workers through oral regurgitations.
The internal phylogeny of the Aderidae is completely unresolved and the current bases for separating the tribes and genera need to be reexamined. I am utilizing an integrative taxonomic approach using molecular sequence data and morphological characters of the genera to reconstruct the phylogeny of the group.
Sexual Dimorphism & Diversification
Sexually dimorphic characters such as modified metafemoral setae and antennal modifications have traditionally and recurrently been used to define subfamilies, tribes, and subtribes in the classification of the Aderidae. Unfortunately, these characters have resulted in taxonomic confusion as the metafemoral setae are often sexually dimorphic, but can also appear as sexually monomorphic within species. How many times has sexual dimorphism arisen? Has dimorphism evolved through the gain of setal patches in males or the loss of these patches in females? I will be using the most strongly supported phylogeny of the family to address these questions through ancestral state character reconstructions.
Additionally, I wil be performing diversification analyses to evaluate whether or not sexual dimorphism has led to an increase in the overall diversification (speciation – extinction) of aderid lineages.