Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) barcoding is an effective tool for species identification and life-stage association in a wide range of animal taxa. We developed a strategy for rapid construction of a regional DNA-barcode reference library and used the caddisflies (Trichoptera) of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) as a model. Nearly 1000 cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences, representing 209 caddisfly species previously recorded from GSMNP, were obtained from the global Trichoptera Barcode of Life campaign. Most of these sequences were collected from outside the GSMNP area. Another 645 COI sequences, representing 80 species, were obtained from specimens collected in a 3-d bioblitz (short-term, intense sampling program) in GSMNP. The joint collections provided barcode coverage for 212 species, 91% of the GSMNP fauna. Inclusion of samples from other localities greatly expedited construction of the regional DNA-barcode reference library. This strategy increased intraspecific divergence and decreased average distances to nearest neighboring species, but the DNA-barcode library was able to differentiate 93% of the GSMNP Trichoptera species examined. Global barcoding projects will aid construction of regional DNA-barcode libraries, but local surveys make crucial contributions to progress by contributing rare or endemic species and full-length barcodes generated from high-quality DNA. DNA taxonomy is not a goal of our present work, but the investigation of COI divergence patterns in caddisflies is providing new insights into broader biodiversity patterns in this group and has directed attention to various issues, ranging from the need to re-evaluate species taxonomy with integrated morphological and molecular evidence to the necessity of an appropriate interpretation of barcode analyses and its implications in understanding species diversity (in contrast to a simple claim for barcoding failure).
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