Does size matter for horny beetles? A geometric morphometric analysis of interspecific and intersexual size and shape variation in Colophon haughtoni Barnard, 1929, and C. kawaii Mizukami, 1997 (Coleoptera: Lucanidae)

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Eldred, Thea ; Meloro, Carlo ; Scholtz, Clarke ; Murphy, Declan ; Fincken, Katie ; Hayward, Matt
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: Organisms Diversity & Evolution
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s13127-016-0289-z
  • Subject: QH301 | QH | Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Colophon is an understudied, rare and endangered stag beetle genus with all species endemic to isolated mountain peaks in South Africa’s Western Cape. Geometric morphometrics was used to analyse intersexual and interspecific variation of size and shape in the mandibles, heads, pronota and elytra of two sympatric species: Colophon haughtoni and Colophon kawaii. All measured structures showed significant sexual dimorphism, which may result from male-male competition for females. Female mandibles were too small and featureless for analysis, but male Colophon beetles possess large, ornate mandibles for fighting. Males had significantly larger heads and pronota that demonstrated shape changes which may relate to resource diversion to the mandibles and their supporting structures. Females are indistinguishable across species, but males were accurately identified using mandibles, heads and pronota. Male C. kawaii were significantly larger than C. haughtoni for all structures. These results support the species status of C. kawaii, which is currently in doubt due to its hybridisation with C. haughtoni. We also demonstrate the value of geometric morphometrics as a tool which may aid Colophon conservation by providing biological and phylogenetic insights and enabling species identification.
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