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Pre- and post-mating reproductive barriers drive divergence of five sympatric species of Naryciinae moths (Lepidoptera: Psychidae)



The biological species concept suggests that species can be separated on the basis of reproductive isolation. However, because natural interbreeding capabilities are often unknown, differences in morphology are generally used to separate species. Alternatively, genetic dissimilarity is used to separate morphologically similar species. Many genetic markers, including the maternally inherited mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I sequence, cannot show interbreeding and therefore species status of groups may remain unresolved. In species of the genera Dahlica and Siederia (Lepidoptera: Psychidae: Naryciinae) the lack of morphological distinction and unknown interbreeding has led to unclear and unresolved taxonomic status. Mitochondrial DNA sequences suggest five sexual species to occur in Finland. However, their species status remains unconfirmed, due to a lack of knowledge on interbreeding, unclear morphological distinction and the limited variation in mitochondrial DNA. We combine three methods, a cross-mating experiment, an analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, and a detailed male genital morphological examination, to establish the species status of the five suspected species. All suspected species exhibit intraspecies mating preference, although several interspecies pairs readily produce offspring. The genetic analysis, however, fails to show hybrids or introgression, suggesting that both pre- and post-copulation mechanisms isolate the species reproductively. Morphological analysis of the male genitalia confirms that the species have diverged. Our results highlight the need of combining behavioural, morphological and genetic methods to determine species status in challenging taxonomic groups. © 2014 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, 112, 584–605.