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Biocontrol research on Brazilian peppertree in Florida discovers new cryptic species

Date:
February 6, 2013
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
A species of moth from Brazil that was being considered for biocontrol of the Brazilian peppertree in Florida was sent to a USDA-Agricultural Research Service research entomologist for identification. In the course of the research, six new species were discovered.

This picture shows the newly discovered Paectes longiformis species, male (top) and female (bottom).
Credit: Dr. Michael Pogue

Dr Michael Pogue, a Research Entomologist in the ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory, at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, was sent a series of moth specimens from Bahia, Brazil, for identification. The insects were under consideration as a possible biocontrol agent for the invasive Brazilian peppertree in Florida.

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'The species was initially identified as a common species, but when comparisons were made, it became evident that there were multiple species involved' said Dr. Pogue. Using characters from the moths' male and female genitalia, Dr. Pogue determined that the so-called 'common' species actually consisted of six new species, plus two described species.

Brazilian peppertree is one of the most damaging invasive species in Florida. Originally introduced as an ornamental plant into Florida at least three times in the mid- to late 1800's, it has since invaded a number of habitats throughout southern and central Florida. In addition to this new biocontrol species, two other species (one new) native to Florida also feed on Brazilian peppertree. The potential biocontrol species had been described previously, but the remaining five new species were described in the present study in ZooKeys.

'What was interesting about this identification was the discovery of so many new species', said Dr Pogue. 'The wing pattern was similar among these species, but their reproductive systems were quite different'. 'It became obvious that multiple cryptic species were involved only when these dissections were made.'

Cryptic species complexes can be confusing and require proper careful assessment of morphological or molecular characters in order to allow for identifications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Pogue. A review of the Paectes arcigera species complex (Guenιe) (Lepidoptera, Euteliidae). ZooKeys, 2013; 264 (0): 126 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.264.3274

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Biocontrol research on Brazilian peppertree in Florida discovers new cryptic species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206094720.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2013, February 6). Biocontrol research on Brazilian peppertree in Florida discovers new cryptic species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206094720.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Biocontrol research on Brazilian peppertree in Florida discovers new cryptic species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206094720.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

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