Phylogenetic and biometric analyses of parallel radiations in the band-winged grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae: Oedipodinae)
Rapidly diverging clades are evolutionary laboratories to study speciation and its underling forces. Many of the most important findings and ideas in evolutionary biology have been developed studying rapidly diversifying lineages, e.g. Darwin finches, and East African cichlids. Such lineages provide optimal conditions to study the different stages of evolution. Many of these systems occur at a very limited geographic scale where ecological opportunity and key innovations have allowed the formation of new species in short amounts of time. Fewer studies have addressed superficially non-adaptive radiations taking place at larger geographic scales. One such radiation are the band-winged grasshoppers (Oedipodinae) with more than 800 species and an almost global distribution. Hotspots of their distribution are the Northern US, the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Interestingly, similar phenotypes occur repeatedly in the old and new world, which apparently have evolved independently. Yet, no robust phylogeny of the group is currently available making any inference on trait evolution hypothetical. Hence, in this study I propose to generate the first robust phylogeny for the group using genomic data and biometrically quantify phenotypes across most genera of the group to establish the Oedipodinae as a novel model system to study the evolution of similar phenotypes at large geographic scales.