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Data from: The species versus subspecies conundrum: quantitative delimitation from integrating multiple data types within a single Bayesian approach in Hercules beetles

Citation

Huang, Jen-Pan; Knowles, L. Lacey (2015), Data from: The species versus subspecies conundrum: quantitative delimitation from integrating multiple data types within a single Bayesian approach in Hercules beetles, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8p6m0

Abstract

With the recent attention and focus on quantitative methods for species delimitation, an overlooked but equally important issue regards what has actually been delimited. This study investigates the apparent arbitrariness of some taxonomic distinctions, and in particular how species and subspecies are assigned. Specifically, we use a recently developed Bayesian model-based approach to show that in the Hercules beetles (genus Dynastes) there is no statistical difference in the probability that putative taxa represent different species, irrespective of whether they were given species or subspecies designations. By considering multiple data types, as opposed to relying exclusively on genetic data alone, we also show that both previously recognized species and subspecies represent a variety of points along the speciation spectrum (i.e., previously recognized species are not systematically further along the continuum than subspecies). For example, based on evolutionary models of divergence, some taxa are statistically distinguishable on more than one axis of differentiation (e.g., along both phenotypic and genetic dimensions), whereas other taxa can only be delimited statistically from a single data type. Because both phenotypic and genetic data are analyzed in a common Bayesian framework, our study provides a framework for investigating whether disagreements in species boundaries among data types reflect (i) actual discordance with the actual history of lineage splitting, or instead (ii) differences among data types in the amount of time required for differentiation to become apparent among the delimited taxa. We discuss what the answers to these questions imply about what characters are used to delimit species, as well as the diverse processes involved in the origin and maintenance of species boundaries. With this in mind, we then reflect more generally on how quantitative methods for species delimitation are used to assign taxonomic status.

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