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Song Analysis Reveals a Permanent Population of the Mediterranean Lacewing Chrysoperla agilis (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) Living in Central Alaska
Abstract and Figures
Chrysoperla agilis Henry et al. (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) is a widespread, nomadic lacewing in the carnea group of cryptic species. C. agilis has previously been found only in the warm parts of Europe, western Asia, and a few oceanic islands. Like others of the carnea group, C. agilis is identifiable only by its unique courtship song. Recently, a population with by the C. agilis song was discovered in central Alaska; based on its persistence over several years and its distribution over a wide area near Fairbanks, it seems to be permanent rather than transitory. To assess the relationship of this Western Hemisphere population to C. agilis in the Eastern Hemisphere, we 1) analyzed its courtship song, comparing it to the Eurasian song; 2) compared larval and adult morphology of Alaskan and Eurasian specimens; 3) inferred phylogenetic relationships of Alaskan and Eurasian specimens, by using sequences from the cox2 gene; and 4) crossed Alaskan with European individuals, raising their progeny and analyzing their “hybrid” songs. Alaskan C. agilis generally fell within the range of variation of Eurasian individuals for all acoustic and morphological traits, and their hybrid progeny were also acoustically indistinguishable. Phylogenetically, and despite current geographical isolation, Alaskan individuals clustered with Eurasian C. agilis rather than with Western Hemisphere taxa of the carnea group. We conclude that the Alaskan population is a bona fide member of C. agilis. Examination of the geographical pattern of song variation suggests that dispersal to Alaska took place quite recently in a west to east direction, via eastern Asia and the Bering Strait.
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