Integrative Taxonomy as a tool for the determination of species of the smaller arachnid orders

Integrative taxonomy combines morphological species determination by means of classical taxonomy with modern methodological developments like COI DNA barcoding. This helps to recheck species boundaries or search for cryptic species previously undetected by morphological analysis.

In a recent study from 2018 AIM could support in the determination of species of the smaller arachnid orders in Peru using integrative taxonomy. Two orders were of great interest to the scientists: the order Schizomida commonly known as shorttailed whipscorpions and the order of Amblypygi commonly known as whip spiders or tailless whip scorpions.

At first sight in the field, the specialists were not sure whether two morphologically different groups (morphs) belonged to two different species or whether the smaller ones were the juveniles of the larger ones. Individuals from two orders were collected and analyzed morphologically. Additionally, a leg or part of a leg of each specimen was sent to AIM for DNA barcoding service.

The molecular results from the DNA barcoding affirmed the conclusion of the morphological analyses and adjustments concerning some morphological features could be made for future identifications of the order Schizomida (shorttailed whipscorpions).

A combination of classical taxonomy and modern genetic methods should be used in any species description. Only in this way the worldwide accessible and digital catalog of species can be completed.

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