Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Entomology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The New Zealand (NZ) Pselaphini was revised at the species level, a phylogenetic analysis was performed using morphological data, and first steps were taken towards the construction of a molecular analysis of the tribe. Eight new genera and 33 new species were discovered from specimens collected from the NZ mainland, offshore islands, Chatham Islands and the Subantarctic Islands. Of the 13 species originally described in the genus Pselaphus by Thomas Broun during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all were either reassigned to the genera Pselaphaulax and Pselaphogenius, or were placed into new genera. Three names were synonymized in the genus Pselaphaulax. Four new genera, “Pselaphoaotearoa”, “Pselaphopegasus”, “Pselaphopluteum”, and “Pselaphotuberculum” were described from new species. The new genera “Pselaphazealus”, “Pselapholateralis”, “Pselapholobus”, and “Pselaphotumulus” were designated based on species originally described in the genus Pselaphus. The two genera Pselaphaulax and Pselaphogenius were revised at the species level. The single NZ exemplar of the genus Pselaphophus, Pselaphophus atriventris Westwood, was redescribed. The status of the type specimen for Pselaphotheseus ihupuku Carlton and Leschen was clarified. These revisional studies bring the numbers of New Zealand Pselaphini from 19 species in four genera to 52 species within 12 genera. Of these 12 genera, 8 are apparently endemic to NZ. A morphological tree was reconstructed based on 65 taxa and 111 morphological characters. The consensus tree supported the cohesion of NZ exemplars in the two genera Pselaphaulax and Pselaphogenius, and did not support the division of these genera according to the “species groups” instituted as aids to identification in the generic revisions. Additionally, the tree also supports the removal of all NZ exemplars previously placed in Pselaphus by Broun in the revisionary work. A close alliance between NZ, Asian, Australian, and New Caledonian taxa is supported by this tree. A first attempt at a molecular phylogenetic analysis was pursued for 48 taxa utilizing protocols for ultraconserved elements. This project was halted prior to sequencing due to poor quality of PCR products post-amplification, highlighting issues for future projects aimed at resolving phylogenies of disparate pselaphine genus-group taxa.

Committee Chair

Carlton, Christopher

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