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Phylogenetic molecular species delimitations unravel potential new species in the pest genus Spodoptera Guenée, 1852 (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae)

Abstract : Nowadays molecular species delimitation methods promote the identification of species boundaries within complex taxonomic groups by adopting innovative species concepts and theories (e.g. branching patterns, coalescence). As some of them can efficiently deal with large single-locus datasets, they could speed up the process of species discovery compared to more time consuming molecular methods, and benefit from the existence of large public datasets; these methods can also particularly favour scientific research and actions dealing with threatened or economically important taxa. In this study we aim to investigate and clarify the status of economically important moths species belonging to the genus Spodoptera (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), a complex group in which previous phylogenetic analyses and integrative approaches already suggested the possible occurrence of cryptic species and taxonomic ambiguities. In this work, the effectiveness of innovative (and faster) species delimitation approaches to infer putative species boundaries has been successfully tested in Spodoptera, by processing the most comprehensive dataset (in terms of number of species and specimens) ever achieved; results are congruent and reliable, irrespective of the set of parameters and phylogenetic models applied. Our analyses confirm the existence of three potential new species clusters (for S. exigua (Hübner, 1808), S. frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797) and S. mauritia (Boisduval, 1833)) and support the synonymy of S. marima (Schaus, 1904) with S. ornithogalli (Guenée, 1852). They also highlight the ambiguity of the status of S. cosmiodes (Walker, 1858) and S. descoinsi Lalanne-Cassou & Silvain, 1994. This case study highlights the interest of molecular species delimitation methods as valuable tools for species discovery and to emphasize taxonomic ambiguities.
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Pascaline Dumas, Jérôme Barbut, Bruno Le Ru, Jean-François Silvain, Anne Laure Clamens, et al.. Phylogenetic molecular species delimitations unravel potential new species in the pest genus Spodoptera Guenée, 1852 (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae). PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, 10 (4), pp.e0122407. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0122407⟩. ⟨hal-01837281⟩

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