Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/5/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Fire ants (Solenopsis) are an ideal model system for studying speciation and coexistence. Based on preliminary mitochondrial work, they appear to be a relatively recent radiation, and possibly a species swarm (ancient hybridization among young species). We are using a variety of phylogenetic, phylogeographic, and synergistic methods to understand (1) how to define species (addressing cryptic species, divergent morphospecies, etc.), (2) what the relationships are between species, (3) which species hybridize and under what conditions (and how that relates to the family tree), and (4) how parasitic species relate to the rest of the group. These are very complex questions, but using a variety of independent evidence datasets (molecular, distributional, morphological, etc.) we are beginning to tease apart this puzzle.