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Open AccessArticle

Elevational Patterns of Generic Diversity in the Tenebrionid Beetles (Coleoptera Tenebrionidae) of Latium (Central Italy)

1
Department of Life Health & Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila Via Vetoio, I-67100 L’Aquila, Italy
2
Research Centre for Ecological Change, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 4, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020047
Received: 29 December 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 24 January 2020 / Published: 26 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Diversity)
The concept of generic diversity expresses the ‘diversification’ of species into genera in a community. Since niche overlap is assumed to be higher in congeneric species, competition should increase generic diversity. On the other hand, generic diversity might be lower in highly selective environments, where only species with similar adaptations can survive. We used the distribution of tenebrionid beetles in Central Italy to investigate how generic diversity varies with elevation from sea level to 2400 m altitude. Generic diversity of geophilous tenebrionids decreased sharply with elevation, whereas the generic diversity of xylophilous tenebrionids showed similarly high values across the gradient. These results suggest that geophilous species are more sensitive to variation in environmental factors, and that the advantages of close relationships (similar adaptations to harsh conditions) are greater than the possible drawbacks (competition). This is consistent with the fact that geophilous tenebrionids are mostly generalist detritivores, and hence weakly affected by competition for resources. By contrast, xylophilous species are more protected from harsh/selective conditions, but more limited by competition for microhabitats and food. Our results support the environmental filtering hypothesis for the species composition of tenebrionid beetles along an elevational gradient.
Keywords: altitude; mountain; elevational gradient; darkling beetles; Mediterranean; Apennines; competition; environmental filtering; species richness altitude; mountain; elevational gradient; darkling beetles; Mediterranean; Apennines; competition; environmental filtering; species richness
MDPI and ACS Style

Fattorini, S.; Mantoni, C.; Biase, L.D.; Strona, G.; Pace, L.; Biondi, M. Elevational Patterns of Generic Diversity in the Tenebrionid Beetles (Coleoptera Tenebrionidae) of Latium (Central Italy). Diversity 2020, 12, 47.

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