"Inordinate Fondness" Explained: Why Are There So Many Beetles?

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 555-559
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.555

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The phylogeny of the Phytophaga, the largest and oldest radiation of herbivorous beetles, was reconstructed from 115 complete DNA sequences for the 18S nuclear ribosomal subunit and from 212 morphological characters. The results of these analyses were used to interpret the role of angiosperms in beetle diversification. Jurassic fossils represent basal lineages that are still associated with conifers and cycads. Repeated origins of angiosperm-feeding beetle lineages are associated with enhanced rates of beetle diversification, indicating a series of adaptive radiations. Collectively, these radiations represent nearly half of the species in the order Coleoptera and a similar proportion of herbivorous insect species.

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