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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Convergence of dominance and neglect in flying insect diversity

Srivathsan, Amrita; Ang, Yuchen; Heraty, John M. M.; Hwang, Wei Song; Jusoh, Wan F. A.; Kutty, Sujatha Narayanan; Puniamoorthy, Jayanthi; Yeo, Darren; Roslin, Tomas; Meier, Rudolf

Abstract

Using DNA barcoding to analyse flying insect diversity of >225,000 specimens from five biogeographic regions, the authors show that more than half of local species diversity is represented by only 20 insect families, most of which suffer from taxonomic neglect.Most of arthropod biodiversity is unknown to science. Consequently, it has been unclear whether insect communities around the world are dominated by the same or different taxa. This question can be answered through standardized sampling of biodiversity followed by estimation of species diversity and community composition with DNA barcodes. Here this approach is applied to flying insects sampled by 39 Malaise traps placed in five biogeographic regions, eight countries and numerous habitats (>225,000 specimens belonging to >25,000 species in 458 families). We find that 20 insect families (10 belonging to Diptera) account for >50% of local species diversity regardless of clade age, continent, climatic region and habitat type. Consistent differences in family-level dominance explain two-thirds of variation in community composition despite massive levels of species turnover, with most species (>97%) in the top 20 families encountered at a single site only. Alarmingly, the same families that dominate insect diversity are 'dark taxa' in that they suffer from extreme taxonomic neglect, with little signs of increasing activities in recent years. Taxonomic neglect tends to increase with diversity and decrease with body size. Identifying and tackling the diversity of 'dark taxa' with scalable techniques emerge as urgent priorities in biodiversity science.

Published in

Nature ecology & evolution
2023, Volume: 7, pages: 1012-1021
Publisher: NATURE PORTFOLIO

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Ecology

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-023-02066-0

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/122496