Delimiting species of Protaphorura (Collembola: Onychiuridae): integrative evidence based on morphology, DNA sequences and geography.
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Species delimitation remains a significant challenge when the diagnostic morphological characters are limited. Integrative taxonomy was applied to the genus Protaphorura (Collembola: Onychiuridae), which is one of most difficult soil animals to distinguish taxonomically. Three delimitation approaches (morphology, molecular markers and geography) were applied providing rigorous species validation criteria with an acceptably low error rate. Multiple molecular approaches, including distance- and evolutionary model-based methods, were used to determine species boundaries based on 144 standard barcode sequences. Twenty-two molecular putative species were consistently recovered across molecular and geographical analyses. Geographic criteria were was proved to be an efficient delimitation method for onychiurids. Further morphological examination, based on the combination of the number of pseudocelli, parapseudocelli and ventral mesothoracic chaetae, confirmed 18 taxa of 22 molecular units, with six of them described as new species. These characters were found to be of high taxonomical value. This study highlights the potential benefits of integrative taxonomy, particularly simultaneous use of molecular/geographical tools, as a powerful way of ascertaining the true diversity of the Onychiuridae. Our study also highlights that discovering new morphological characters remains central to achieving a full understanding of collembolan taxonomy.
Special thanks should be given to Wang Zongming and Zhang Jing, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who provided the great help to the distribution map of collection sites. The present study was mainly supported by funding from the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (Grant No.: 41571052, 31301862, 41430857), the Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China (Grant No.: 2015M570281), the Excellent Young Scholars of Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No.: DLSYQ13003), the Program of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities (B16011), and the funding provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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Vol. 7, Art. No. 8261
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