Date of this Version
Phenotypic variability is the engine that drives future diversification with the expectation that polymorphic ancestors give rise to descendants harboring a subset of the ancestral variation. Here we examine evolutionary transitions from polymorphism to monomorphism in a visually striking New World radiation of fruit flies, the Drosophila cardini group. This group is distributed across the Americas and the Caribbean islands and exhibits a wide spectrum of abdominal pigmentation variation. Specifically, the D. dunni subgroup consists of Caribbean island endemics, each of which is monomorphic for its pigmentation pattern, with an interspecific cline of pigmentation across the islands. The D. cardini subgroup consists of American continental species with wide-ranging distributions and intraspecifically variable abdominal pigmentation. We determined the phylogeny of 18 species and subspecies using three nuclear and three mitochondrial regions analyzed with maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian methods. The topology produced from a combined dataset exhibited high support values at all nodes, and differed from earlier phylogenetic hypotheses based on polytene chromosome inversion patterns and isozyme data. We find that the D. dunni subgroup species, with the exception of D. belladunni, are derived from a single source not of direct South American origin and their dispersal across the islands of the Caribbean does not follow a simple stepping-stone model. Morphological changes in pigmentation across the island species are incongruent with the colonization history of the group indicating that natural selection may have played a role in the determination of this character. Finally, we demonstrate that monomorphic species have arisen independently from polymorphic ancestors two to three times.