School of BioSciences - Theses

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    The diversity and behaviour of Dermaptera (earwigs) in the southern Australian grain belt
    Stuart, Oliver ( 2018)
    Dermaptera (earwigs) are a cosmopolitan order of insects that have recently come to the attention of the Australian grain industry. Researchers have been sampling Dermapteran diversity and abundance across the southern Australian grain belt, but resolution of the sample is stifled by taxonomic impediment, particularly for specimens of the morphologically uniform Anisolabididae family. Molecular methods can provide much needed resolution to the study of Australian Dermaptera. I barcoded known Dermaptera species from across the southern Australian states to assess the utility of barcoding for Dermapteran biodiversity research. I also assessed the diversity of the Anisolabididae by combining morphological identification and DNA barcodes. I then estimated their phylogeny with a larger molecular dataset comprised of two mitochondrial and two nuclear gene fragments under a maximum-likelihood framework. Anisolabididae males were divided into seven morphospecies based on the shape of the forceps and parameres (a male genital structure), and these morphospecies were corroborated by barcodes (low within versus between-species genetic distance). Paramere shape distinguished two putative genera, Anisolabis Fieber and Gonolabis Burr. The molecular phylogeny did not support the monophyly of the genera, rather forming clades distinguished by the shape of the forceps. The evolutionary significance of paramere versus forceps morphology in Dermapteran taxonomy is discussed. Anisolabididae were only found in Western and South Australia and showed apparent endemism. Extending the study of Australian Anisolabididae beyond grains-producing regions may reveal a diverse endemic fauna, almost entirely unexplored heretofore.