Integrative taxonomy assesses the congruence between different lines of evidence for delimiting species, such as morphological, molecular or ecological data. Herein molecular phylogenetics is used to test monophyly and determine the phylogenetic position of the Old World tropical centipede genus Ethmostigmus Pocock, 1898, and to define species boundaries for Ethmostigmus in peninsular India. A phylogeny of the family Scolopendridae based on DNA sequence data for three markers from 427 specimens sampling in all major lineages (144 individuals generated in this study) recovers Ethmostigmus as a monophyletic group, but relationships among the genera in its subfamily Otostigminae are poorly supported. Two species delimitation methods for DNA sequence data and phylogeny are integrated with morphology and geographic data to propose a well-supported species hypothesis for Ethmostigmus on the peninsular Indian plate. Five species of Ethmostigmus are recognised in peninsular India, of which E. coonooranus Chamberlin, 1920 and three new species, namely, E. agasthyamalaiensis, sp. nov., E. sahyadrensis, sp. nov. and E. praveeni, sp. nov., occur in the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot. The lesser-known Eastern Ghats harbour one species, E. tristis (Meinert, 1886), which has been nearly unreported for 130 years. This study highlights the value of an integrative approach to systematics, especially in underexplored, high biodiversity regions and where morphological variation is limited among closely related species.
Vol. 32 • No. 6
Vol. 32 • No. 6