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BACKGROUND: The geometrid moths of Europe are one of the best investigated insect groups in traditional taxonomy making them an ideal model group to test the accuracy of the Barcode Index Number (BIN) system of BOLD (Barcode of Life Datasystems), a method that supports automated, rapid species delineation and identification. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study provides a DNA barcode library for 219 of the 249 European geometrid moth species (88%) in five selected subfamilies. The data set includes COI sequences for 2130 specimens. Most species (93%) were found to possess diagnostic barcode sequences at the European level while only three species pairs (3%) were genetically indistinguishable in areas of sympatry. As a consequence, 97% of the European species we examined were unequivocally discriminated by barcodes within their natural areas of distribution. We found a 1:1 correspondence between BINs and traditionally recognized species for 67% of these species. Another 17% of the species (15 pairs, three triads) shared BINs, while specimens from the remaining species (18%) were divided among two or more BINs. Five of these species are mixtures, both sharing and splitting BINs. For 82% of the species with two or more BINs, the genetic splits involved allopatric populations, many of which have previously been hypothesized to represent distinct species or subspecies. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study confirms the effectiveness of DNA barcoding as a tool for species identification and illustrates the potential of the BIN system to characterize formal genetic units independently of an existing classification. This suggests the system can be used to efficiently assess the biodiversity of large, poorly known assemblages of organisms. For the moths examined in this study, cases of discordance between traditionally recognized species and BINs arose from several causes including overlooked species, synonymy, and cases where DNA barcodes revealed regional variation of uncertain taxonomic significance.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0084518

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2013

Volume

8

Keywords

Animals, Biodiversity, DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic, Europe, Female, Male, Moths