Integrated species delimitation and conservation implications of an endangered weevil Pachyrhynchus sonani (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Green and Orchid Islands of Taiwan

Yen Ting Chen, Hui Yun Tseng, Ming Luen Jeng, Yong Chao Su, Wen San Huang*, Chung Ping Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Oceanic islands are productive habitats for generating new species and high endemism, which is primarily due to their geographical isolation, smaller population sizes and local adaptation. However, the short divergence times and subtle morphological or ecological divergence of insular organisms may obscure species identity, so the cryptic endemism on islands may be underestimated. The endangered weevil Pachyrhynchus sonani Kôno (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Entiminae: Pachyrhynchini) is endemic to Green Island and Orchid Island of the Taiwan-Luzon Archipelago and displays widespread variation in coloration and host range, thus raising questions regarding its species boundaries and degree of cryptic diversity. We tested the species boundaries of P. sonani using an integrated approach that combined morphological (body size and shape, genital shape, coloration and cuticular scale), genetic (four genes and restriction site-associated DNA sequencing, RAD-seq) and ecological (host range and distribution) diversity. The results indicated that all the morphological datasets for male P. sonani, except for the colour spectrum, reveal overlapping but statistically significant differences between islands. In contrast, the morphology of the female P. sonani showed minimum divergence between island populations. The populations of P. sonani on the two islands were significantly different in their host ranges, and the genetic clustering and phylogenies of P. sonani established two valid evolutionary species. Integrated species delimitation combining morphological, molecular and ecological characters supported two distinct species of P. sonani from Green Island and Orchid Island. The Green Island population was described as P. jitanasaius sp.n. Chen & Lin, and it is recommended that its threatened conservation status be recognized. Our findings suggest that the inter-island speciation of endemic organisms inhabiting both islands may be more common than previously thought, and they highlight the possibility that the cryptic diversity of small oceanic islands may still be largely underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-813
Number of pages18
JournalSystematic Entomology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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