The twisted-winged parasite genus Stylops has a history of different species concepts with varying host specificity resulting in diverse species diversity estimates in different regions of the Holarctic. The adoption of a supergeneralist species concept in Europe, proposing synonymization of all Western Palaearctic Stylops species, did not facilitate taxonomic clarity and obscured the available life-history data in the region for decades. Lack of molecular data has allowed divergent opinions on species hypotheses and little opportunity for evaluating them in this morphologically challenging genus. To solve these discrepancies and gain novel information about host associations, we applied whole-genome sequencing to 163 specimens, representing a significant portion of putative European species. We evaluate the existing and conflicting species hypotheses with molecular species delimitation using Species bOundry Delimitation using Astral (SODA)and use a maximum likelihood phylogeny to investigate host associations of the species. Furthermore, we evaluate the effect of a number of loci used in SODA for the number of inferred species. We find justification for synonymization of multiple species and indications of undescribed species, as well as new host–parasite relationships. We show that the number of inferred species in SODA is exceedingly and positively correlated with the number of loci used, urging for cautious application. The results of our study bring clarity to the Western Palaearctic species diversity of Stylops. Furthermore, the comprehensive molecular dataset generated in this study will be a valuable resource for future studies on Stylops and the evolution of parasites in general.

Systematic Entomology

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Staff publications

Lähteenaro, Meri, Straka, Jakub, Forshage, Mattias, Hovmöller, Rasmus, Nakase, Yuta, Nilsson, Anders L., … Bergsten, Johannes. (2023). Phylogenomic species delimitation of the twisted‐winged parasite genus Stylops (Strepsiptera). Systematic Entomology, (12618). doi:10.1111/syen.12618