The tiger beetle C icindela limbata albissima Rumpp is confined to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes formation in southern Utah where its habitat is under threat. To assess the conservation value of this population, the level of divergence in mtDNA throughout the range of C. limbata in the central and western parts of the United States and Canada was tested. A representative sample of 25 specimens from four subspecies was sequenced for 1,873 bp and three mtDNA regions. The data revealed the wide separation of C. l. albissima from the other subspecies. In a phylogenetic analysis that included all species in the maritima species group, C. l. albissima was placed as sister to seven species of a western North American clade. The remaining C. limbata populations formed a (weakly supported) monophyletic group within this western clade but were not closely related to C. l. albissima. These populations could not be further subdivided into discrete geographic entities defined by diagnostic characters. It was concluded that the distinct taxonomic status of C. l. albissima had not previously been recognized, possibly because of morphological similarity in elytral patterns and other characters that are convergent in sand dune-dwelling species. On the basis of the mtDNA data, C. l. albissima is eleveated to species status, C. albissima Rumpp [revised status]. The results highlight the importance of conservation efforts for C. albissima and its habitat.
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Vol. 93 • No. 5