Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography

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Unexpected species diversity within Japanese Mundochthonius pseudoscorpions (Pseudoscorpiones: Chthoniidae) and the necessity for improved species diagnosis revealed by molecular and morphological examination

Hajime Ohira , Shingo Kaneko , Leanne Faulks , Tsutsumi Tadaaki


Using the complementary approaches of morphological and molecular taxonomy is essential to further our understanding of invertebrate diversity, including the identification of cryptic species. Although the species classification of a widespread group of arachnids, the pseudoscorpions, has been based on traditional diagnostic characters for a long time, recent taxonomic studies have suggested that some of these are unreliable for distinguishing species. Thus the application of molecular taxonomy may be particularly useful in this group. Here we performed molecular phylogenetic analyses and species delimitation analyses, based on partial sequences of mtDNA COI and nDNA 18S rRNA genes, to assess the taxonomy of species and the reliability of morphological characteristics for distinguishing species in the Japanese soil-dwelling genus Mundochthonius (Chthoniidae). Our results revealed the existence of seven major genetic clades, likely corresponding to three described species and four cryptic species. Although two described species, M. kiyoshii and M. itohi, were represented by single clades in the phylogenetic analysis, a third, M. japonicus, was composed of multiple clades, highlighting inconsistencies between phylogenetic relationships and current species classifications using traditional morphological diagnostics. This study exemplifies the need for further exploration of pseudoscorpion taxonomy and species diversity. In particular, detailed morphological examinations are expected to help determine differences among cryptic species.

IS17036  Accepted 18 July 2017

© CSIRO 2017