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Systematics and diversity of Ichneumonidae, with an emphasis on the taxonomically neglected genus Ophion Fabricius Open Access


Other title
Molecular taxonomy
Species delimitation
Integrative taxonomy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Schwarzfeld, Marla Dahlie
Supervisor and department
Sperling, Felix (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Sharkey, Michael (University of Kentucky)
Dosdall, Lloyd (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Proctor, Heather (Biological Sciences)
Roland, Jens (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Systematics and Evolution
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Ichneumonidae are the most species-rich family of parasitic Hymenoptera and are important for regulating populations of other arthropods. However, with an estimated 75% of species undescribed, we lack fundamental information about their taxonomy, ecology, and distributions. Using two different groups of Ichneumonidae, I address each of these issues in this thesis. In Chapters 2 – 4, I focus on the taxonomically-neglected genus Ophion. I provide the first phylogenetic hypothesis of Ophion based on molecular data (COI, ITS2 and 28S) and divide the genus into ten provisional species-groups (Chapter 2). I also describe the secondary structure of ITS2 for the first time in Ichneumonidae, and discuss its potential to inform phylogenetic inference in Ophion (Chapters 2, 3). I investigate the diversity of Ophion at the species level by comparing quantitative species delimitation methods with each other and with morphologically-defined species (Chapter 3). The total number of delimited species is dependent on the method and parameters used; however all methods agree that there is a wealth of undescribed diversity in Nearctic Ophion. Finally, I revise the Nearctic species within the newly defined Ophion scutellaris species-group (Chapter 4). An integrative analysis of DNA, geometric wing morphometrics, classical morphometrics and morphology indicates that this species-group contains a minimum of seven species in Canada, although the full diversity of the group has likely not been sampled. Ophion clave sp. n., O. aureus sp. n., O. brevipunctatus sp. n., O. dombroskii sp. n., O. keala sp. n., and O. importunus sp. n. are described. Once species have names, it is possible to address other fundamental questions about their distribution and ecology. I conducted a survey of Ichneumonidae in a boreal deciduous forest, with an emphasis on Pimplinae, Poemeniinae, and Rhyssinae. Responses to forest harvesting were weak, but there is evidence that the community composition at the species level is correlated with shrub composition. Even within this relatively well-known group, there is much unexplored diversity. Any nomenclatural changes or new taxa proposed in this thesis should not be considered valid until published in primary journals as defined by the ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature 1999).
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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