Sunday, May 8, 2011

Semi-Cryptic Species

Last week the most recent volume of Bibliotheca Lichenologica (dedicated to Tom Nash) was released. There were 33 peer-reviewed contributions by 70 authors, and one of these contributions was a paper that I wrote with James Lendemer of the New York Botanical Garden. In short, the paper demonstrates with molecular data that the species Xanthoparmelia tasmanica (Parmeliaceae) contains at least two species that cannot be differentiated based on any known morphological or chemical characters. However, the two species belong to two larger clades within the genus Xanthoparmelia, one of which seems to be exclusively Australasian, and the other of which is distributed across the Earth's other continents.

The evolutionary pattern seen here is strikingly similar to what is found in placental mammals and marsupial mammals, with two larger clades of organisms (one of which is almost exclusively Australasian) in which certain pairs of species have converged on similar morphologies. The pair of Xanthoparmelia tasmanica and Xanthoparmelia hypofusca (the new name of the other species, which we sampled in North America) is interesting because it is the first known example of complete convergence in this group, where no distinguishing morphological or chemical characters could be identified for two species found to be in these two major clades. However, we use the term 'semi-cryptic' (as opposed to 'cryptic') to describe the pair of species, since geography would seem to indicate which species is represented by any given sample.

A press release came out from Duke for this story.  The following list represents a handful of websites that have covered the story: [In Spanish] [In Spanish] [In Spanish]

- Brendan


Hodkinson, B. P., and J. C. Lendemer. 2011. Molecular analyses reveal semi-cryptic species in Xanthoparmelia tasmanica. Bibliotheca Lichenologica 106: 115-126.
Download publication (PDF file)
Download nucleotide alignment (NEXUS file)

Hodkinson, B. P., and J. C. Lendemer. 2010. How do you solve a problem like Xanthoparmelia? Molecular analyses reveal semi-cryptic species in an Australasian-American 'disjunct' taxon. In: Botany 2010. Botanical Society of America, St. Louis, Missouri, abs. 355.
View abstract (website)
View poster



I even found a site that tries to use my article to disprove evolution!
I consider it to be a badge of honor.  As an evolutionary biologist, when the intelligent design people start paying attention to your work, I think that it's an indication that you've "arrived"!

No comments:

Post a Comment