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Species status and population structure of the Australian Eucalyptus pest Paropsis atomaria Olivier (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

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1 Paropsis atomaria Olivier represents an emergent pest of Eucalyptus plantations in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Most prior studies on the biology and control of P. atomaria have centred on populations from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, but the biological relationship between beetles from Canberra and those from up to 1500 km further north are unknown.

2 DNA markers were used to determine whether P. atomaria from Canberra are the same biological species as those from Eucalyptus forestry plantations in northern New South Wales and Queensland, where the beetle has become an important pest. Using the mitochondrial gene, cytochrome c oxidase I (COI), individuals collected from across the distribution of P. atomaria were investigated for haplotype diversity and levels of mitochondrial divergence.

3 Within P. atomaria, genetic distance averaged 0.5% across 23 unique haplotypes for 93 individuals, with an average of 14% difference between P. atomaria and the outgroup species, Paropsis obsoleta. Significant genetic structure was observed relative to geographical distribution, but not with respect to host plant species of origin. Greatest divergence was between the southern-most sample site (Canberra) and northern sites in New South Wales and Queensland, indicating reduced gene flow between these regions.

4 Individuals from across eastern Australia belong to the same genetic species with population substructuring evident. Consequently, there is no evidence to suggest cryptic species complexes exist within the currently defined taxon. Continued implementation of control strategies for P. atomaria across its distribution is appropriate.

Keywords: Cryptic species; cytochrome c oxidase I; forestry; leaf beetle; population structure

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, PO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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