Data from: Genetic analyses reveal cryptic diversity in the native North American fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Solenopsis)
Chialvo, Pablo et al. (2017), Data from: Genetic analyses reveal cryptic diversity in the native North American fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Solenopsis), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.39sr7
The native North American fire ants (Solenopsis) comprise a difficult group taxonomically that has undergone multiple revisions in the past century yet remains in a state of taxonomic uncertainty. In this study, we utilized a large set of microsatellite markers to conduct the first robust genetic analysis of the nominal species. Our approach used a variety of methods to test operational criteria commonly employed in species delimitation, including genotypic clustering, reproductive isolation/cohesion, and monophyly. We conclude from our results that the recognized North American fire ant species represent evolutionarily independent entities and, moreover, we confirm the presumed sister status of the desert fire ants, S. aurea and S. amblychila. However, the presence of at least two genetically divergent populations within the nominal species boundaries, including a western form of S. xyloni and a distinct population of S. aurea endemic to the Coachella Valley of California, suggests that the current taxonomy does not fully capture the species-level diversity in this group. Our study provides the molecular foundation for future integrated studies of the taxonomy and evolution of this scientifically and economically important group of insects.
National Science Foundation, Award: 1354479