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Keywords:

  • barcoding gap;
  • cicadas;
  • cytochrome c oxidase I;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • Southern Europe;
  • Tettigettalna

Abstract

DNA barcodes have great potential to assist in species identification, especially when high taxonomical expertise is required. We investigated the utility of the 5′ mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) region to discriminate between 13 European cicada species. These included all nine species currently recognized under the genus Tettigettalna, from which seven are endemic to the southern Iberian Peninsula. These cicadas have species-specific male calling songs but are morphologically very similar. Mean COI divergence between congeners ranged from 0.4% to 10.6%, but this gene was proven insufficient to determine species limits within genus Tettigettalna because a barcoding gap was absent for several of its species, that is, the highest intraspecific distance exceeded the lowest interspecific distance. The genetic data conflicted with current taxonomic classification for T. argentata and T. mariae. Neighbour-joining and Bayesian analyses revealed that T. argentata is geographically structured (clades North and South) and might constitute a species complex together with T. aneabi and T. mariae. The latter diverges very little from the southern clade of T. argentata and shares with it its most common haplotype. T. mariae is often in sympatry with T. argentata but it remains unclear whether introgression or incomplete lineage sorting may be responsible for the sharing of haplotypes. T. helianthemi and T. defauti also show high intraspecific variation that might signal hidden cryptic diversity. These taxonomic conflicts must be re-evaluated with further studies using additional genes and extensive morphological and acoustic analyses.