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      A revision of Meladema diving beetles (Coleoptera, Dytiscidae), with the description of a new species from the central Mediterranean based on molecules and morphology


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          Meladema Laporte, 1835 are relatively large, stream-dwelling diving beetles, distributed widely in the Western Palaearctic, from the Atlantic Islands to Turkey, and from southern France and the Balkans to the central Sahara. In addition to the three previously recognised taxa ( M. coriacea Laporte, 1835, M. imbricata (Wollaston, 1871) and M. lanio (Fabricius, 1775)) we describe a new, cryptic, species from the central Mediterranean area, which can be distinguished from M. coriacea on both DNA sequence data and morphology, and provide a key to known species of the genus. Based on the study of genotyped material, both recent and archival, as well as the examination of a large number of museum specimens, we show that M. lepidoptera sp. n. occurs to the apparent exclusion of M. coriacea on Corsica, Sardinia and islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, but that both taxa are found in peninsular Italy, where they may occasionally hybridize. In the absence of the original type series, we designate a neotype for M. coriacea , and take the opportunity to designate a lectotype for M. lanio . Morphological variation in Meladema species is discussed, including that seen in known and presumed hybrids. Our study highlights the incomplete state of knowledge of Mediterranean biodiversity, even in relatively large, supposedly well-studied taxa.

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          Cryptic species as a window on diversity and conservation.

          The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species (two or more distinct species classified as a single species) has been recognized for nearly 300 years, but the advent of relatively inexpensive and rapid DNA sequencing has given biologists a new tool for detecting and differentiating morphologically similar species. Here, we synthesize the literature on cryptic and sibling species and discuss trends in their discovery. However, a lack of systematic studies leaves many questions open, such as whether cryptic species are more common in particular habitats, latitudes or taxonomic groups. The discovery of cryptic species is likely to be non-random with regard to taxon and biome and, hence, could have profound implications for evolutionary theory, biogeography and conservation planning.
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            Biological identifications through DNA barcodes.

            Although much biological research depends upon species diagnoses, taxonomic expertise is collapsing. We are convinced that the sole prospect for a sustainable identification capability lies in the construction of systems that employ DNA sequences as taxon 'barcodes'. We establish that the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) can serve as the core of a global bioidentification system for animals. First, we demonstrate that COI profiles, derived from the low-density sampling of higher taxonomic categories, ordinarily assign newly analysed taxa to the appropriate phylum or order. Second, we demonstrate that species-level assignments can be obtained by creating comprehensive COI profiles. A model COI profile, based upon the analysis of a single individual from each of 200 closely allied species of lepidopterans, was 100% successful in correctly identifying subsequent specimens. When fully developed, a COI identification system will provide a reliable, cost-effective and accessible solution to the current problem of species identification. Its assembly will also generate important new insights into the diversification of life and the rules of molecular evolution.
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              A rapid bootstrap algorithm for the RAxML Web servers.

              Despite recent advances achieved by application of high-performance computing methods and novel algorithmic techniques to maximum likelihood (ML)-based inference programs, the major computational bottleneck still consists in the computation of bootstrap support values. Conducting a probably insufficient number of 100 bootstrap (BS) analyses with current ML programs on large datasets-either with respect to the number of taxa or base pairs-can easily require a month of run time. Therefore, we have developed, implemented, and thoroughly tested rapid bootstrap heuristics in RAxML (Randomized Axelerated Maximum Likelihood) that are more than an order of magnitude faster than current algorithms. These new heuristics can contribute to resolving the computational bottleneck and improve current methodology in phylogenetic analyses. Computational experiments to assess the performance and relative accuracy of these heuristics were conducted on 22 diverse DNA and AA (amino acid), single gene as well as multigene, real-world alignments containing 125 up to 7764 sequences. The standard BS (SBS) and rapid BS (RBS) values drawn on the best-scoring ML tree are highly correlated and show almost identical average support values. The weighted RF (Robinson-Foulds) distance between SBS- and RBS-based consensus trees was smaller than 6% in all cases (average 4%). More importantly, RBS inferences are between 8 and 20 times faster (average 14.73) than SBS analyses with RAxML and between 18 and 495 times faster than BS analyses with competing programs, such as PHYML or GARLI. Moreover, this performance improvement increases with alignment size. Finally, we have set up two freely accessible Web servers for this significantly improved version of RAxML that provide access to the 200-CPU cluster of the Vital-IT unit at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the 128-CPU cluster of the CIPRES project at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. These Web servers offer the possibility to conduct large-scale phylogenetic inferences to a large part of the community that does not have access to, or the expertise to use, high-performance computing resources.

                Author and article information

                Pensoft Publishers
                25 September 2017
                : 702
                : 45-112
                [1 ] Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
                [2 ] Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: David T. Bilton ( d.bilton@ 123456plymouth.ac.uk )

                Academic editor: M. Michat

                David T. Bilton, Ignacio Ribera

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 29 June 2017
                : 23 August 2017
                Research Article

                Animal science & Zoology
                systematics,integrative taxonomy,biogeography,cryptic species,freshwater,biodiversity,entomology


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