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Morphological and molecular variation in tiger beetles of the Cicindela hybrida complex: is an ‘integrative taxonomy’ possible?

Authors

  • A. CARDOSO,

    1. Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK,
    2. Departamento de Biologia Animal/Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Rua Ernesto Vasconcelos, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal,
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  • A. SERRANO,

    1. Departamento de Biologia Animal/Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Rua Ernesto Vasconcelos, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal,
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  • A. P. VOGLER

    1. Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK,
    2. Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK
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Anabela Cardoso, Fax: +34 93 230 9555; E-mail: anabela@um.es

Abstract

Current taxon assignments at the species level are frequently discordant with DNA-based analyses. Recent studies on tiger beetles in the Cicindela hybrida complex identified discordance between mtDNA patterns and the entities currently defined by the taxonomic literature. To test the accuracy of morphologically delimited groups, five named taxa (species) from 24 representative sampling sites across Europe were scored for 41 external morphological characters. Three of the named taxa were ‘diagnosable’, that is, defined by between one and three characters unique to each group. Newly sequenced ITS1 and existing mitochondrial cox1 markers established 20 and 22 different haplotypes, respectively, but only cox1 produced (four) diagnosable units. Phylogenetic analysis and statistical parsimony networks showed poor congruence of character variation with the taxonomic entities (and each other). Variation in morphological characters was therefore tested directly for association with DNA-based nesting groups at various hierarchical levels using permutational contingency analysis. Significant statistical associations of 11 (of 13 variable) morphological characters were observed with nesting groups from ITS1 and mitochondrial DNA markers, predominantly at the 4-step level. The analysis demonstrates the need for formal tests of congruence with morphological variation at the level of individual characters, a step that is omitted from recent studies of ‘integrative taxonomy’. In addition, statistical correlation of particular morphological characters with DNA-based nesting groups can identify the lowest hierarchical level at which various character sets show congruence, as a means to define evolutionarily separated entities supported by diverse data sources.

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