The causes of insect endemicity with the example of Madagascar
Isambert supervised by Dr Alfried Vogler
The Natural History Museum London, Department of Entomology
This project is aimed at understanding why some insects are unique to some specific areas, using the example of a biodiversity hotspot: Madagascar.
In order to answer this question, water beetles and moths will be collected in the southern part of the island. Their DNA will be extracted and sequenced, so as to build a taxonomic tree, representing each individual and its genetic relationship with the others. DNA data from Africa and Europe will be included in the tree, so as to be able to compare the genetic diversity of each area, to emphasize the high diversity of Madagascar, and to assess the level of endemism on the island. Then, I will focus on some ecological factors like the habitat and the geography, to understand how they are involved in the endemism process. A last step will consist in dating all the major genetic diversification events on the tree, and comparing them to the main geological events of Madagascar. Eventual migration patterns will be also studied in this part.
Finally, all this information will emphasize the different components of the endemism of water beetles and moths in Madagascar. An extrapolation of these results will be done to explain the causes of insect endemism in general.