After the successful colonization of a single ancestral species in the Hawaiian Islands, planthoppers of the cixiid genus Oliarus underwent intensive adaptive radiation resulting in 80 described endemic species. Oliarus habitats range from montaneous rain forests to dry coastal biotopes and subterranean environments. At least 7 independant evolutionary lines represented by different species have adapted to lava tubes on Molokai (1), Maui (3), and Hawaii Island (3). Behavioral and morphological studies on one of these evolutionary lines on Hawaii Island, the blind, flight- and pigmentless Oliarus polyphentus have provided evidence for reproductive isolation between allopatric populations which may in fact be separate species. Significant differences in song parameters were observed even between populations from neighbouring lava tubes, although the planthoppers are capable of underground migration through the voids and cracks of the mesocavernous rock system which is extant in young basalt: after a little more than 20 years, lava tubes within the Mauna Ulu 1974 flow had been colonized by O. "polyphenius" individuals, most probably originating from a near-by forest-kipuka. Amazingly, this species complex is found on the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, with probably less than 0.5 m.y., which suggests rapid speciation processes. Field observations have led to the development of a hypothesis to match underground speciation with the dynamics of vegetational succession on the surface of active volcanoes. Planthopper range partitioning and geographic separation of populations by young lava flows, founder events and small population size may be important factors involved in rapid divergence.
The Hawaiian cave planthoppers (Homoptera: Fulgoroidea: Cixiidae) - a model for rapid subterranean speciation?.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol26/iss1/2