There is growing debate about the role DNA methods can play in species identification and whether DNA-based methods can become the predominant means to describe species. DNA methods already have the potential to assist in traditional taxonomy and form the basis of routine species identification once species boundaries are clear. We show how DNA methods helped in separating three “species” of the midge, Cladopelma Kieffer. The “species” were initially identified in surveys from Melbourne, Australia, by using cytochrome oxidase I (COI) polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment-length polymorphism markers. The DNA markers and further sequence analysis of COI assisted in identifying unique morphological characters for the “new” species, and provided a way of linking different life stages. DNA tools should be used to routinely to assign species groups such as the Chironomidae, where in some genera there are morphological ambiguities and where life cycle stages cannot be easily connected.
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Vol. 98 • No. 4