Date of Completion

Summer 8-31-2018

Thesis Advisor(s)

Chris Simon; Charles S. Henry

Honors Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Agriculture | Bioinformatics | Entomology | Evolution | Genetics | Molecular Genetics


The Chrysoperla carnea-group of green lacewings is a cryptic species complex. Species within the group are morphologically similar, yet isolated from one another via reproductive mating song. Chrysoperla zastrowi, a species within the carnea-group, is currently described with a distribution ranging from South Africa to the Middle East and India. However, recent collections of carnea-group lacewings from Guatemala and California were preliminarily identified as Chrysoperla zastrowi based upon similarities in their vibrational courtship songs. This analysis aims to place six specimens, collected by collaborators in Guatemala, Armenia, Iran, and California, into a pre-existing phylogeny of the Chrysoperla carnea-group, to confirm the range expansion of this species into the Western Hemisphere (the New World).

The approach to identifying these specimens was multi-faceted, including a DNA analysis as well as the use of morphological and vibrational song data. Sanger sequencing of four fast-evolving mitochondrial genes (COI, COII, ND2, and ND5) was performed on these specimens. The phylogenetic analysis places all of the California-collected specimens with Chrysoperla zastrowi, as does an examination of other critical features including the morphology of the tarsal claw and the acoustical characteristics of the vibrational songs. The placement of the Guatemala-collected individuals is less straightforward, possible reasons for which can be found in the Results and Discussion section.

In addition, this thesis considers the utility of various methods in elucidating a cryptic species complex, as well as the relative benefits of executing a phylogenetic analysis using mitochondrial genes.