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Type: Theses
Title: The systematics of Australian Agathidinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), including the evolution of Therophilus and its colour mimicry pattern
Author: Stevens, Nicholas Benjamin
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Biological Sciences
Abstract: This study investigated the diversity and evolution of the Agathidinae in Australia. The Agathidinae are a large subfamily of braconid wasps with nearly 1,200 described species in over 50 genera worldwide. The subfamily has been relatively well-studied in the northern hemisphere but the Australian fauna is poorly known. This study presents a synopsis of the genera and species in Australia, including information on distributions, apparent species richness, species list, and keys to all genera present and to Camptothlipsis Enderlein, Lytopylus Foerster, and Therophilus Wesmael species. The phylogeny of the Agathidinae is also analysed using morphological and molecular data, with particular focus on the dominant genus in Australia, Therophilus, and its associated colour mimicry pattern. The Australian Agathidinae has received little taxonomic attention since the last of the 36 recognised species were described nearly 100 years ago. Not surprisingly, this earlier work is insufficient for reliable identification of the genera and species present. This study, employing modern taxonomic concepts, found more than 200 undescribed species representing 10 genera occurring in Australia. The fauna is dominated by tropical genera with the northern tropical to sub-tropical regions of the continent hosting the greatest generic diversity. Only one genus, Therophilus, is widespread throughout Australia. The cosmopolitan Therophilus is the most speciose agathidine genus in Australia with approximately 150 species recognised, 20 of which are described. The present study updates the taxonomy of the previously described Therophilus species, providing a more thorough assessment of intra-specific variation, and a key to species. In addition, four new species are described that support the morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies undertaken. A conspicuous component of Australian Therophilus are the members associated with a putative mimicry complex of braconid wasps and other insects comprising species that display a distinctive black, red-orange and white colour pattern (referred to in this study as the BROW colour pattern). Previous phylogenetic analysis using both 28S and morphological data from mostly non-Australian taxa revealed Therophilus to be polyphyletic. There are currently no distinguishing morphological attributes to enable each of the divergent Therophilus lineages to be reliably identified, thereby making it difficult taxonomically to designate each linage as a separate genus. Only one Australian Therophilus species was represented in the previous phylogenetic studies so the evolutionary affinities of the genus in Australia, including members that display the BROW colour pattern, remained unknown. To investigate the evolution of Australian Therophilus and its putative mimicry colour pattern, previously published agathidine phylogenetic studies were expanded with the addition of predominantly Australian Therophilus species, many having the BROW colour pattern. The phylogenetic results further demonstrated the polyphyly of Therophilus and that the Australian fauna and the BROW mimicry pattern are not monophyletic. This study represents an important contribution to the systematics of the Australian Agathidinae and provides a firm basis for identifying and describing the many undescribed Australian Therophilus species. The phylogenetic analyses further highlighted the importance of using multiple genetic markers, in conjunction with a broader taxonomic and geographical representation, to more robustly define the evolutionary relationships present.
Advisor: Austin, Andrew Donald
Murphy, Nicholas
Jennings, John Thomas
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) (Research by Publication) -- University of Adelaide, School of Biological Sciences, 2016.
Keywords: Agathis
lepidopteran hosts
Research by Publication
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/5b21cb3b95945
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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