Testing hypotheses for wing coloration in a Neotropical damselfly group through morphometric and phylogenetic analyses

Tuesday, November 12, 2013: 4:03 PM
Meeting Room 6 A (Austin Convention Center)
Nikole Abkrom
Melissa Sanchez Herrera , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ
William R. Kuhn , Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ
Christopher Beatty , Department of Biology, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
Inland waters cover <1% of Earth’s surface, yet harbor 10% of all animal species, >60% of which are insects. Odonata is the fourth-largest aquatic insect radiation and second-largest exclusively aquatic order. Due to their popularity, manageable diversity and well-resolved taxonomy, Odonata is the only insect order for which a global status assessment is feasible. With its unparalleled diversity of aquatic habitats and its historically and contemporarily more dynamic climate, Africa can be considered the Freshwater Continent: its landscapes are among the most untouched in the world, but the growth rates of its economy and population are also unrivalled, and the environment will change faster here than anywhere else. The continent-wide, fine-scale, taxonomically-verified overview of African Odonata obtained through the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment is the only one available for a tropical insect group. We are developing dragonflies as a practical freshwater management tool throughout Africa by clarifying the identification, ecology and distribution of all species. The next phase is to reconstruct their phylogeny and estimate genetic diversity: due to extensive fieldwork, samples of 81% of the 730 species are already available for analysis. The combined data not only have great application in taxonomy and conservation, but also in understanding how freshwater biodiversity arose in dynamic environments, for which Africa is the perfect experimental garden.