Carolan, James C. and Murray, Tomas E. and Fitzpatrick, Una and Crossley, John and Schmidt, Hans and Cederberg, Bjorn and McNally, Luke and Paxton, Robert J. and Williams, Paul H. and Brown, Mark J. F.
Colour Patterns Do Not Diagnose Species: Quantitative
Evaluation of a DNA Barcoded Cryptic Bumblebee
PLoS ONE, 7 (1).
Cryptic diversity within bumblebees (Bombus) has the potential to undermine crucial conservation efforts designed to
reverse the observed decline in many bumblebee species worldwide. Central to such efforts is the ability to correctly
recognise and diagnose species. The B. lucorum complex (Bombus lucorum, B. cryptarum and B. magnus) comprises one of
the most abundant and important group of wild plant and crop pollinators in northern Europe. Although the workers of
these species are notoriously difficult to diagnose morphologically, it has been claimed that queens are readily diagnosable
from morphological characters. Here we assess the value of colour-pattern characters in species identification of DNA barcoded
queens from the B. lucorum complex. Three distinct molecular operational taxonomic units were identified each
representing one species. However, no uniquely diagnostic colour-pattern character state was found for any of these three
molecular units and most colour-pattern characters showed continuous variation among the units. All characters previously
deemed to be unique and diagnostic for one species were displayed by specimens molecularly identified as a different
species. These results presented here raise questions on the reliability of species determinations in previous studies and
highlights the benefits of implementing DNA barcoding prior to ecological, taxonomic and conservation studies of these
important key pollinators.
||© 2012 Carolan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029251 . This work was supported by a grant from the Higher Education Authority of Ireland (http://www.hea.ie/) as part of its North-South Research Programme for Peace and Reconciliation to RJP and MJFB and a Science Foundation Ireland (http://www.sfi.ie/) grant EEEOBF131 to MJFB. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
||Colour Patterns; Diagnose Species; Quantitative
Evaluation; DNA Barcoded Cryptic Bumblebee
||Faculty of Science and Engineering > Biology
||03 Jul 2012 16:01
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