Dung beetles of the subfamily Scarabaeinae are widely recognised as important providers of multiple ecosystem services and are currently experiencing revisions that have improved our understanding of higher-level relationships in the subfamily. However, the study of phylogenetic relationships at the level of genus or species is still lagging behind. In this study we investigated the New World beetle genus Dichotomius, one of the richest within the New World Scarabaeinae, using the most comprehensive molecular and morphological dataset for the genus to date (in terms of number of species and individuals). Besides evaluating phylogenetic relationships, we also assessed species delimitation through a novel Bayesian approach (iBPP) that enables morphological and molecular data to be combined. Our findings support the monophyly of the genus Dichotomius but not that of the subgenera Selenocopris and Dichotomius sensu stricto (s.s). Also, our results do not support the recent synonymy of Selenocopris with Luederwaldtinia. Some species-groups within the genus were recovered, and seem associated with elevational distribution. Our species delimitation analyses were largely congruent irrespective of the set of parameters applied, but the most robust results were obtained when molecular and morphological data were combined. Although our current sampling and analyses were not powerful enough to make definite interpretations on the validity of all species evaluated, we can confidently recognise D. nisus, D. belus and D. mamillatus as valid and well differentiated species. Overall, our study provides new insights into the phylogenetic relationships and classification of dung beetles and has broad implications for their systematics and evolutionary analyses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)