Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Over the last 200 years, the taxonomic level of alticine and galerucine leaf beetles has fluctuated from tribe to subfamily. The traditional character to define alticines (flea beetles) is the modified jumping organ in the hind leg. The absence of this character has been used to define the other group, the galerucines, which otherwise share most characters with alticines. We present a logical argument that the absence of this feature cannot be used as a phylogenetic character of galerucines since it is also absent from most other beetles as well. We then present an explicit study using morphological features that are shared among subfamilies of leaf beetles to answer the question: are alticines simply modified galerucines? The methods of the study are based on Hennig, and use two phylogenetic analysis software packages: PAUP and Hennig86. A total of 54 characters was coded for 25 exemplar taxa of leaf beetles. This included 19 traditional alticines and galerucines (ingroup taxa) and 6 exemplars from potentially closely related subfamilies (outgroup taxa). Both analyses resulted in 6 equally parsimonius trees. A consensus of these trees showed that alticines form a mostly monophyletic entity embedded within other galerucines. Based on our data, alticines are modified galerucines and should have a relatively lower taxonomic rank. This work will help stabilize leaf beetle classification. It will be useful to evolutionary biologists in general and taxonomists, systematists, and biological control workers who can use phylogenetic data to make predictions on host plant usage and thus better isolate candidates for the biological control of weeds.