Original Article

Integrative taxonomy reveals multiple cryptic species within Central American Hylomyrma Forel, 1912 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Pierce, M.P., Branstetter, M.G. & Longino, J.T.


Abstract: Advances in molecular methodology allow for higher-resolution analyses of evolutionary relationships and species limits. To clarify species boundaries in the ant genus Hylomyrma Forel, 1912 within Central America, we take an integrative approach to taxonomy, combining data from thousands of nuclear loci (Ultra-Conserved Elements), the mitochondrial gene Cytochrome Oxidase I, and morphological traits. We reveal potential cryptic species within named taxa and two morphologically distinct new species: Hylomyrma montana and H. plumosa. Hylomyrma montana is the first definitive montane species in the genus, with populations in Costa Rica, Panama, and the Pacific slope of Ecuador. We show that the Ecuadorian and Central American populations form a single clade and are not the result of convergent, montane specialization. We discuss our findings in relation to both montane diversification and Neotropical biogeography.

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