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Taxonomy and systematics of Chasmoptera (Neuroptera: Nemopteridae: Nemopterinae): Assessing the species status of Western Australia’s only spoon-wing lacewing genus

Morgan, Liesel (2021) Taxonomy and systematics of Chasmoptera (Neuroptera: Nemopteridae: Nemopterinae): Assessing the species status of Western Australia’s only spoon-wing lacewing genus. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Chasmoptera is a genus of charismatic spoon-wing lacewings (Neuroptera: Nemopteridae: Nemopterinae) endemic to Western Australia. There are currently only three described species in this genus: C. hutti (Westwood 1848), C. superba (Tillyard 1925) and C. mathewsi (Koch 1967). Little is known of the evolution or biology of these insects, though some inferences about the genus can be made from commonalities to other members of the Nemopteridae and Nemopterinae from other continents. A defining feature of Chasmoptera is their elaborate extended hindwings, with apical dilations arranged in a “ribbon” or “spoon” shape. Species delimitation methods for this genus have relied predominantly on hindwing morphology (with some forewing and genital morphology) to determine species. In recent years there have been collections of Chasmoptera individuals from several different populations, many differing slightly in appearance from the three known species. The aims of this research were to assess the species status of approximately five putative new Chasmoptera species, provisionally identified by their hindwing morphology, and examine hindwing variation across the genus using morphometric analyses. Mitochondrial DNA sequence data was used to further delimit species and the phylogenetic relationships among the species of Chasmoptera were established. Delimitation analyses identified two likely new species: Chasmoptera “AE” and Chasmoptera “PG”. The unique hindwing morphology of another, isolated population (C. “Lake Grace”) revealed another likely new species, for which DNA data could not be obtained. Morphometric analysis showed that males have greater shape variation in their hindwings than females, consistent with the male hindwings being under sexual selection. K-means clustering presented some shape trends, although the patterns of species delimitation that were defined for the known and putative new species (whom had previously been identified by hindwing shape) were not maintained. Unexpectedly, the molecular delimitation of species did not directly support the morphological delimitation of species, or vice versa. The results of this study present the first molecular phylogeny of Chasmoptera and tentatively double the number of known species, creating a basis for further study of Nemopterinae in Western Australia and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Tatarnic, Nikolai, Tanner, Jessie and Bryant, Kate
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