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Diversity 2018, 10(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10020036

Ants in Australia’s Monsoonal Tropics: CO1 Barcoding Reveals Extensive Unrecognised Diversity

1
CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre, PMB 44 Winnellie, Darwin, NT 0822, Australia
2
Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia
3
Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Acton Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 April 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 10 May 2018 / Published: 14 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Barcoding for Biodiversity)
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Abstract

The Australian monsoonal tropics (AMT) is a significant biodiversity hotspot, and recent genetic studies of several vertebrate groups have revealed its level of diversity is far higher than previously thought. However, the extent to which this applies to the AMT’s insect fauna, which represents most AMT faunal species, remains unknown. Here we examine the extent of unrecognised diversity in the AMT’s ecologically dominant insect group, ants. We used CO1 barcoding in combination with morphological variation and geographic distribution to explore diversity within seven taxa currently recognised as single species occurring throughout the AMT: one species of Papyrius Shattuck 1992, one of Iridomyrmex Mayr 1862, two from the Cardiocondyla nuda (Mayr 1866) group, and three from the Camponotus novaehollandiae (Mayr 1870) group. We found six of the seven target species each to represent several species, based on a combination of CO1 divergence (ranging up to 13%), morphological differentiation and geographic distribution. Our findings indicate that the levels of diversity and endemism of the AMT ant fauna are far higher than currently realised. We urge the need for further research in insect biodiversity in the AMT, both for a better understanding of the evolution of its remarkable biota, and as a basis for improved conservation planning. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity; CO1 divergence; endemism; morpho-species; species delimitation biodiversity; CO1 divergence; endemism; morpho-species; species delimitation
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Oberprieler, S.K.; Andersen, A.N.; Moritz, C.C. Ants in Australia’s Monsoonal Tropics: CO1 Barcoding Reveals Extensive Unrecognised Diversity. Diversity 2018, 10, 36.

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