DNA-based species delimitation reveals cryptic and incipient species in synchronous flashing fireflies (Coleoptera Lampyridae) of Southeast Asia

Wan F.A. Jusoh, Lesley Ballantyne, Kin Onn Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Synchronous flashing fireflies of the genus Pteroptyx are ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia, yet fundamental knowledge about their biodiversity is lacking. Recent studies have revealed notable population-level phylogeographical structure within the Pteroptyx tener and P. bearni groups in Malaysia, suggesting that cryptic species may exist. Additionally, morphological and genetic similarities between P. balingiana and P. malaccae have raised questions about the former's validity as a distinct species. We collected samples from previously unsampled populations and assembled the most comprehensive genetic dataset for Pteroptyx to date, to characterize species boundaries within the P. tener, P. bearni and P. malaccae groups. Using a suite of species delimitation analyses, we show that P. tener along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia (PM) is distinct from populations from the east coast and Borneo despite the absence of morphological differentiation. However, analyses could not conclusively differentiate P. bearni from Borneo and eastern PM, nor identify P. balingiana and P. malaccae as distinct species, indicating that these populations may be conspecific or represent incipient species. This study underlines the need to increase geographical, taxonomic and genetic sampling of Southeast Asian fireflies to provide a better understanding of their biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-532
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume130
Issue number3
Early online date09 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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