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“Harlequin poison frogs: Taxonomic delimitation in a polytypic species

October 15, 2015

Mr. Andrés Posso-Terranova, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Biology
University of Saskatchewan

Thursday, October 15th @ 11:45 a.m.
Rm. 125, Biology (W.P. Thompson) Building


“The first part of knowledge is getting the names right” (Chinese proverb)

ABSTRACT: In difficult-to-access habitats that maintain a significant reservoir of the world’s biodiversity, it is widely accepted that a vast amount of species would remain undescribed and that some of them will likely go extinct before they have a chance to be described. Under this actual global wave of biodiversity loss, accurate species delimitation is a critical conservation tool because species names are the fundamental currency for preservation policies. In this study, I focused on the Oophaga histrionica species complex, a group of poison frogs where a perplexing variation in coloration and patterns have led to taxonomic uncertainty suggesting that different color morphs may represent a complex of several undescribed species. Using an integrative taxonomy framework and different lines of evidence derived from ecological data and intrinsic biological attributes (morphology, genetics), I statistically tested competing species boundaries hypothesis. My results indicated that biological (species) diversity within this complex has been broadly underestimated and support the existence of at least four new endemic species of Oophaga poison frogs. These results have important conservation implications as some of its members are considered amongst the most endangered species of all amphibians.