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Keywords:

  • Cypress Hills;
  • Choristoneura lambertiana ;
  • Choristoneura occidentalis ;
  • hybridization;
  • integrative taxonomy;
  • phenology;
  • pheromones;
  • speciation;
  • species delimitation

Abstract

Identification of widespread species collected from islands can be challenging due to the potential for local ecological and phenotypic divergence in isolated populations. We sought to determine how many species of the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) complex reside in Cypress Hills, an isolated remnant coniferous forest in western Canada. We integrated data on behavior, ecology, morphology, mitochondrial DNA, and simple sequence repeats, comparing Cypress Hills populations to those from other regions of North America to determine which species they resembled most. We identified C. fumiferana, C. occidentalis, C. lambertiana, and hybrid forms in Cypress Hills. Adult flight phenology and pheromone attraction were identified as key life-history traits involved in maintaining the genomic integrity of species. Our study highlights the importance of extensive sampling of both specimens and a variety of characters for understanding species boundaries in biodiversity research.