skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Starrett, James"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Higher-level classifications often must account for monotypic taxa representing depauperate evolutionary lineages and lacking synapomorphies of their better-known, well-defined sister clades. In a ranked (Linnean) or unranked (phylogenetic) classification system, discovering such a depauperate taxon does not necessarily invalidate the rank classification of sister clades. Named higher taxa must be monophyletic to be phylogenetically valid. Ranked taxa above the species level should also maximize information content, diagnosability, and utility (e.g., in biodiversity conservation). In spider classification, families are the highest rank that is systematically catalogued, and incertae sedis is not allowed. Consequently, it is important that family-level taxa be well defined and informative. We revisit the classification problem of Orbipurae, an unranked suprafamilial clade containing the spider families Nephilidae, Phonognathidae, and Araneidae sensu stricto. We argue that, to maximize diagnosability, information content, conservation utility, and practical taxonomic considerations, this “splitting” scheme is superior to its recently proposed alternative, which lumps these families together as Araneidae sensu lato. We propose to redefine Araneidae and recognize a monogeneric spider family, Paraplectanoididae fam. nov. to accommodate the depauperate lineage Paraplectanoides. We present new subgenomic data to stabilize Orbipurae topology which also supports our proposed family-level classification. Our example from spiders demonstrates whymore »classifications must be able to accommodate depauperate evolutionary lineages, for example, Paraplectanoides. Finally, although clade age should not be a criterion to determine rank, other things being equal, comparable ages of similarly ranked taxa do benefit comparative biology. [Classification, family rank, phylogenomics, systematics, monophyly, spider phylogeny.]

    « less
  2. Abstract

    The diversity of biological and ecological characteristics of organisms, and the underlying genetic patterns and processes of speciation, makes the development of universally applicable genetic species delimitation methods challenging. Many approaches, like those incorporating the multispecies coalescent, sometimes delimit populations and overestimate species numbers. This issue is exacerbated in taxa with inherently high population structure due to low dispersal ability, and in cryptic species resulting from nonecological speciation. These taxa present a conundrum when delimiting species: analyses rely heavily, if not entirely, on genetic data which over split species, while other lines of evidence lump. We showcase this conundrum in the harvesterTheromaster brunneus, a low dispersal taxon with a wide geographic distribution and high potential for cryptic species. Integrating morphology, mitochondrial, and sub-genomic (double-digest RADSeq and ultraconserved elements) data, we find high discordance across analyses and data types in the number of inferred species, with further evidence that multispecies coalescent approaches over split. We demonstrate the power of a supervised machine learning approach in effectively delimiting cryptic species by creating a “custom” training data set derived from a well-studied lineage with similar biological characteristics asTheromaster. This novel approach uses known taxa with particular biological characteristics to inform unknown taxamore »with similar characteristics, using modern computational tools ideally suited for species delimitation. The approach also considers the natural history of organisms to make more biologically informed species delimitation decisions, and in principle is broadly applicable for taxa across the tree of life.

    « less
  3. Herberstein, Marie Elisabeth (Ed.)
  4. Whitfield, James (Ed.)
    Abstract We report here the discovery of a remarkable new monotypic mygalomorph spider genus, known only from one geographical location along the central coast of California. The single relict species comprising Cryptocteniza kawtakn. gen. n. sp., is morphologically distinct and geographically isolated from other related genera, with its closest phylogenetic relatives found much further to the east in New Mexico and Arizona. Using a phylogenomic approach employing anchored hybrid enrichment, we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the family Euctenizidae Raven, 1985 to explore relationships among genera, affirmatively place previously undescribed taxa, explore rates of diversification, and reconstruct the group’s biogeography. A biogeographic analysis shows that extinction likely played a significant role in shaping the observed disjunct modern-day distribution of Cryptocteniza and its sister taxa. Our extinction hypothesis is further bolstered by a diversification rate analysis identifying considerably higher rates of speciation in other euctenizid lineages like AptostichusSimon, 1891. Consequently, changes in environmental conditions (or other related biotic and/or abiotic factors) may have spurred an adaptive radiation in related genera now widely distributed across the California Floristic Province biodiversity hotspot, with concomitant extinction in Cryptocteniza following the Miocene and establishment of a Mediterranean climate. Owing to its phylogenetic distinctiveness, incredibly narrowmore »distribution and age, we show that Cryptocteniza meets all the criteria of an ‘Endangered Living Fossil’ and is consequently of grave conservation concern.« less