The evolutional signal obtained from Afrotropical taxa might significantly change our traditional understanding of the global diversity pattern and phylogeny of Lepidoptera.
De Prins, J.
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Our dataset contains 33 541 species group names of moths from sub-Saharan Africa and 44 521 distribution records. With this dataset available online as a searchable website (www.afromoths.net), we aim to disseminate the obtained knowledge and to draw the main guidelines in providing a framework for the understanding of the evolutionary pattern of this model insect group. Furthermore we are proposing a scientific management strategy supported by the collection-based science policy and we put the basic stones for more detailed cybertaxonomic elaboration and further research strategy. We stress herewith that the Lepidoptera of sub-Saharan Africa play a prominent role in systematic/biodiversity surveys as indicators of habitat disturbance, hotspots of biodiversity and evolutionary flagships. They constitute a mega-diverse group of insects with at the latest count 157,424 recognized species and an additional estimated 230,000 species still to be discovered, mostly in tropical areas. The least known Lepidoptera that include the highest number of undescribed species are the micro-moths, a paraphyletic group ignored by many lepidopterists. Over recent decades, molecular methods have complemented the traditional comparative morphology and taxonomic classification of micro-moths. The aim of our studies within the framework of the international consortium is to deepen the knowledge on taxonomic and phylogenetic DNA-based studies in the field of evolutionary biology. We also deal with the clarification of complicated cases in alpha-taxonomy such as cryptic differentiation and/or species race formation. Furthermore, we studied the taxonomic history of the groups which were treated controversially and in need of explanation, after their primitive position in the phylogenetic clades was established. Field work was carried out for more than 10 years in fast changing African biotopes which are still suitable for primitive moths. In recent years we described more than fifty new species of primitive moths, belonging to the superfamilies Gracillarioidea and Gelechioidea, collected in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa but mainly in primary rain forests of Central Africa. Our future intentions are to clarify the major paths of the geographical dispersal of Afrotropical moth species. We strongly advocate the highly needed revisionary studies on Afrotropical moths.
CitationDe Prins, J. (2012). The evolutional signal obtained from Afrotropical taxa might significantly change our traditional understanding of the global diversity pattern and phylogeny of Lepidoptera.. , XXIV International Congress of Entomology 'New Era in Entomology', Daegu, Korea,