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      Multilocus species delimitation in a complex of morphologically conserved trapdoor spiders (mygalomorphae, antrodiaetidae, aliatypus).

      Systematic Biology

      Animals, California, DNA, Ribosomal, genetics, Electron Transport Complex IV, Microtubule Proteins, Peptide Elongation Factor 1, Phylogeny, Reproducibility of Results, Species Specificity, Spiders, anatomy & histology, classification

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          Species are a fundamental unit for biological studies, yet no uniform guidelines exist for determining species limits in an objective manner. Given the large number of species concepts available, defining species can be both highly subjective and biased. Although morphology has been commonly used to determine species boundaries, the availability and prevalence of genetic data has allowed researchers to use such data to make inferences regarding species limits. Genetic data also have been used in the detection of cryptic species, where other lines of evidence (morphology in particular) may underestimate species diversity. In this study, we investigate species limits in a complex of morphologically conserved trapdoor spiders (Mygalomorphae, Antrodiaetidae, Aliatypus) from California. Multiple approaches were used to determine species boundaries in this highly genetically fragmented group, including both multilocus discovery and validation approaches (plus a chimeric approach). Additionally, we introduce a novel tree-based discovery approach using species trees. Results suggest that this complex includes multiple cryptic species, with two groupings consistently recovered across analyses. Due to incongruence across analyses for the remaining samples, we take a conservative approach and recognize a three species complex, and formally describe two new species (Aliatypus roxxiae, sp. nov. and Aliatypus starretti, sp. nov.). This study helps to clarify species limits in a genetically fragmented group and provides a framework for identifying and defining the cryptic lineage diversity that prevails in many organismal groups.

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