Among nine endemic Lucanus beetles in Taiwan, L. datunensis is the island's smallest and most threatened species. It currently exists as only one population located in tall grasslands of Mt. Datun in the Yangmingshan National Park. Given the isolated population, unique subtropical grassland, and the threats resulting from human activities, L. datunensis raises immediate conservation concern for its long-term survival. Phylogenies reconstructed from combined mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (1310 bps) and nuclear wingless (436 bps) genes were resolved and placed L. datunensis as a phylogenetically distinct species sister to L. fortunei from China. All 13 examined individuals of L. datunensis shared just one mitochondrial haplotype suggesting extremely low mitochondrial DNA diversity and a small effective population size. L. datunensis and morphologically closest L. miwai were distantly related and appear to have evolved in parallel the life history traits of a small body size and diurnal mate-searching behavior. We hypothesize that these habitat-associated characters are convergent adaptations that have evolved in response to shifts from forests to grasslands.
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