Submitted to: Systematic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2011
Publication Date: 8/16/2011
Citation: Cho, S., Zwick, A., Regier, J.C., Mitter, C., Cummings, M.P., Yao, J., Du, Z., Zhao, H., Kawahara, A.Y., Weller, S., Davis, D.R., Baixeras, J., Brown, J.W., Parr, C. 2011. Deliberately unequal gene sampling: boon or bane for phylogenetics of Lepidoptera (Insecta)?. Systematic Entomology. 60:782-796. Interpretive Summary: The larvae or caterpillars of nearly all Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are plant-feeding, and as such cause considerable damage in agricultural (e.g., crops), urban (e.g., ornamental plantings), and native (e.g., forests) landscapes. Understanding the relationships among species, genera, and families of Lepidoptera is critical in regards to predicting which groups may have a high potential for invasiveness, for becoming pests of agricultural commodities, or for use as biological control agents. That is, closely related groups usually share similar life history and biological traits. In this study we use molecular techniques to evaluate the relationships among several important families of moths, many of which include pest species. This information will be valuable to scientists interested in different ways of evaluating molecular data and those who study the relationships among families of moths.
Technical Abstract: This paper addresses two much-debated questions, on which evidence is still limited, about the design of molecular phylogenetic studies. The first is whether one can economically improve the resolution of a phylogeny estimate by increasing gene sampling in only a subset of tax, without having the analysis invalidated by artifacts arising from large blocks of missing data. The second is whether an initial phylogenetic study will yield more information per unit effort if it stresses gene sampling over taxon sampling. We addressed these questions as part of an ongoing effort to resolve relationships at the superfamily level and above in the advanced clade Ditrysia (>150,000 species) of the insect order Lepidoptera.