When morphological identification meets genetic data: the case of Lucanus cervus and L. tetraodon (Coleoptera, Lucanidae)

Emanuela Solano, Arno Thomaes, Karen Cox, Guiseppe Carpaneto, Silvia Cortellessa, Cosimo Baviera, Luca Bartolozzi, Michele Zilioli, Maurizio Casiraghi, Paolo Audisio, Gloria Antonini

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    The European stag beetle Lucanus cervus, widely distributed across Europe and in some Near East countries, is one of the best known coleopteran species listed in the European Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC and it is considered a flagship species for conservation of saproxylic fauna. Lucanus tetraodon is a closely related species whose geographical distribution is still poorly known and debated. The two species have a sympatric occurrence in central Italy, and in some localities of these areas, many individuals show a mosaic of morphological traits that makes species assignment nearly impossible. We used both mitochondrial and nuclear markers to analyse these specimens. The mitochondrial results evidenced that the two species represent well-defined genetic entities with mitochondrial DNA introgression. This pattern could be the result of either hybridization or of a convergence of morphological characters under local selective pressures in areas of sympatric occurrence. The nuclear marker was polymorphic across the two species and therefore did not reveal hybridization, even if many are the supports to this phenomenon. The most plausible explanation for this genetic pattern is a very recent divergence of the two species which share a common origin and thus a common wg genotype.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)197-205
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Thematic list

    • Insects

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B340-animal-morphology
    • B330-phylogeny
    • B320-taxonomy

    Taxonomic list

    • stag beetles (Lucanidae)
    • Lucanus cervus
    • Lucanus tetraodon


    • biodiversity policy
    • Habitats Directive


    • genetic technologies


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