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31 December 2022 Integrating UCE Phylogenomics With Traditional Taxonomy Reveals a Trove of New World Syscia Species (Formicidae: Dorylinae)
John T. Longino, Michael G. Branstetter
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The ant genus Syscia Roger, 1861 is part of the cryptic ant fauna inhabiting leaf litter and rotten wood in the Asian and American tropics. It is a distinct clade within the Dorylinae, the subfamily from which army ants arose. Prior to this work, the genus comprised seven species, each known from a single or very few collections. Extensive collecting in Middle America revealed an unexpected and challenging diversity of morphological forms. Locally distinct forms could be identified at many sites, but assignment of specimens to species spanning multiple sites was problematic. To improve species delimitation, Ultra-Conserved Element (UCE) phylogenomic data were sequenced for all forms, both within and among sites, and a phylogeny was inferred. Informed by phylogeny, species delimitation was based on monophyly, absence of within-clade sympatry, and a subjective degree of morphological uniformity. UCE phylogenomic results for 130 specimens were complemented by analysis of mitochondrial COI (DNA barcode) data for an expanded taxon set. The resulting taxonomy augments the number of known species in the New World from 3 to 57. We describe and name 31 new species, and 23 species are assigned morphospecies codes pending improved specimen coverage. Queens may be fully alate or brachypterous, and there is a wide variety of intercaste female forms. Identification based on morphology alone is very difficult due to continuous character variation and high similarity of phylogenetically distant species. An identification aid is provided in the form of a set of distribution maps and standard views, with species ordered by size.

Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America 2021. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
John T. Longino and Michael G. Branstetter "Integrating UCE Phylogenomics With Traditional Taxonomy Reveals a Trove of New World Syscia Species (Formicidae: Dorylinae)," Insect Systematics and Diversity 5(2), 1-51, (31 December 2022).
Received: 3 June 2020; Accepted: 28 December 2020; Published: 31 December 2022

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new species
species diversity
ultra-conserved element
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