The Recognition of Cryptic Species Among Economically Important Insects

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Abstract

Medical and economic entomologists are concerned with understanding the ecology of particular insect pest species, that is, their abundance and distribution. The fundamental problem that needs to be confronted is that we cannot always recognize the species we are studying. This is because of the common occurrence of cryptic species that cannot be separated by traditional taxonomic methods, no matter how carefully they are applied. For this reason, a species taxon defined purely on morphological criteria does not coincide necessarily with a species delimited by evolutionary geneticists. This impediment to scientific study can be overcome by admitting the problem and then dealing with it by bringing to bear existing genetical techniques guided by appropriate evolutionary genetical insights.