Tuesday, 1 August 2006 - 5:20 PM

Multi-locus molecular phylogeny and the “Species Problem”: insights from Linepithema ants (Formicidae: Dolichoderinae)

Alexander Wild, Entomology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721

The taxonomic process of species delimitation has long been fraught with difficult philosophical and logistical issues.  DNA sequence data collected at the population level can provide a detailed picture of the underlying complications that evolutionary processes pose for species delineation.  In the present study I infer a multiple-locus molecular phylogeny of 52 individuals representing 16 species of the Neotropical ant genus Linepithema.  Although broad morphological patterns are reflected at deeper phylogenetic levels, several instances of species paraphyly and introgressive hybridization among some younger taxa suggest a complex process of speciation in which ongoing gene flow and local ecological specialization decouple the genetic and morphological signals.

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