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Integrative taxonomy refutes a species hypothesis: The asymmetric hybrid origin of Arsapnia arapahoe (Plecoptera, Capniidae)

Posted date: February 20, 2019
Publication Year: 
Authors: Young, Michael K.; Smith, Rebecca J.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Fairchild, Matthew P.; Schwartz, Michael K.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Ecology and Evolution. 9: 1364-1377.


Molecular tools are commonly directed at refining taxonomies and the species that constitute their fundamental units. This has been especially insightful for groups for which species hypotheses are ambiguous and have largely been based on morphological differences between certain life stages or sexes, and has added importance when taxa are a focus of conservation efforts. Here, we examine the taxonomic status of Arsapnia arapahoe, a winter stonefly in the family Capniidae that is a species of conservation concern because of its limited abundance and restricted range in northern Colorado, USA. Phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear genes of this and other capniid stoneflies from this region and elsewhere in western North America indicated extensive haplotype sharing, limited genetic differences, and a lack of reciprocal monophyly between A. arapahoe and the sympatric A. decepta, despite distinctive and consistent morphological differences in the sexual apparatus of males of both species. Analyses of autosomal and sex‐linked single nucleotide polymorphisms detected using genotyping by sequencing indicated that all individuals of A. arapahoe consisted of F1 hybrids between female A. decepta and males of another sympatric stonefly, Capnia gracilaria. Rather than constitute a self-sustaining evolutionary lineage, A. arapahoe appears to represent the product of nonintrogressive hybridization in the limited area of syntopy between two widely distributed taxa. This offers a cautionary tale for taxonomists and conservation biologists working on the less‐studied components of the global fauna.


Young, Michael K.; Smith, Rebecca J.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Fairchild, Matthew P.; Schwartz, Michael K. 2019. Integrative taxonomy refutes a species hypothesis: The asymmetric hybrid origin of Arsapnia arapahoe (Plecoptera, Capniidae). Ecology and Evolution. 9: 1364-1377.