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Keywords:

  • character-based barcoding;
  • conservation genetics;
  • integrative approach;
  • new (cryptic) species;
  • Odonata;
  • taxonomic circle

Abstract

Modern taxonomy requires an analytical approach incorporating all lines of evidence into decision-making. Such an approach can enhance both species identification and species discovery. The character-based DNA barcode method provides a molecular data set that can be incorporated into classical taxonomic data such that the discovery of new species can be made in an analytical framework that includes multiple sources of data. We here illustrate such a corroborative framework in a dragonfly model system that permits the discovery of two new, but visually cryptic species. In the African dragonfly genus Trithemis three distinct genetic clusters can be detected which could not be identified by using classical taxonomic characters. In order to test the hypothesis of two new species, DNA-barcodes from different sequence markers (ND1 and COI) were combined with morphological, ecological and biogeographic data sets. Phylogenetic analyses and incorporation of all data sets into a scheme called taxonomic circle highly supports the hypothesis of two new species. Our case study suggests an analytical approach to modern taxonomy that integrates data sets from different disciplines, thereby increasing the ease and reliability of both species discovery and species assignment.