Phylogeny of the hyper-diverse rove beetle subtribe Philonthina with implications for classification of the tribe Staphylinini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)


Chani-Posse, M.R., Brunke, A.J., Chatzimanolis, S., Schillhammer, H., Solodovnikov, A. (2018). Phylogeny of the hyper-diverse rove beetle subtribe Philonthina with implications for classification of the tribe Staphylinini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). Cladistics, [online] 34(1), 1-40.

Plain language summary

Data derived from DNA and structures of the body were used to reconstruct the evolution of a worldwide and diverse group of rove beetles, currently with more than 2,700 described species. The results were used to improve the classification of these beetles and better understand relationships, which are important for evolutionary biology. These predatory beetles are often very abundant in both pristine and human-created habitats, including those used in agriculture and livestock production (pastures, crop fields, etc.).Many of these species are important predators of pest flies.


With 71 genera and over 2700 described species, Philonthina is the most speciose subtribe of rove beetle tribe Staphylinini and forms a major component of the largest remaining higher systematics challenge in Staphylinini, the ‘Staphylinini propria’ clade. A related systematics issue concerns the position of the genus Holisus (Hyptiomina), which was recovered within the Neotropical philonthine lineage in several recent analyses of morphology. With the aims of resolving the phylogeny of Philonthina and the position and, thus, validity of Hyptiomina, we performed phylogenetic analyses of the tribe Staphylinini based on molecular (six genes, 4471 bp) and morphological (113 characters) data including 138 taxa from all relevant lineages of Staphylinini. We found that ‘Staphylinini propria’ is a monophylum consisting of six lineages: current subtribes Anisolinina, Philonthina, Staphylinina and Xanthopygina; and two new subtribes, Algonina Schillhammer and Brunke and Philothalpina Chatzimanolis and Brunke. While the previously hypothesized Neotropical lineage of Philonthina was corroborated, Holisus was recovered as a separate subtribe, outside of Philonthina, within an informal ‘Southern Hemisphere clade’. Based on our analyses, we propose tentative new concepts of the polyphyletic genera Belonuchus and Philonthus. We propose the following taxonomic changes: synonymy of the subtribes Staphylinina Latreille (valid name) and Eucibdelina Sharp; resurrection of genera Barypalpus Cameron and Trapeziderus Motschulsky from synonymy with Rientis Sharp and Belonuchus Nordmann, respectively; transfer of 38 Belonuchus species, 16 Hesperus Fauvel species and one Philonthus Stephens species to Trapeziderus as new combinations; transfer of two Hesperus species to Eccoptolonthus Bernhauer as new combinations; transfer of one Belonuchus species to Paederomimus Sharp as a new combination; and transfer of Pridonius Blackwelder new status from its position as a subgenus of Quedius (subtribe Quediina) to Philonthina as a genus, and new combinations for its two described species.

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