Evidence of at least two evolutionary lineages in Melipona subnitida (Apidae, Meliponini) suggested by mtDNA variability and geometric morphometrics of forewings
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Melipona subnitida, a tropical stingless bee, is an endemic species of the Brazilian northeast and exhibits great potential for honey and pollen production in addition to its role as one of the main pollinators of the Caatinga biome. To understand the genetic structure and better assist in the conservation of this species, we characterized the population variability of M. subnitida using geometric morphometrics of the forewing and cytochrome c oxidase I gene fragment sequencing. We collected workers from six localities in the northernmost distribution. Both methodologies indicated that the variability among the sampled populations is related both to the environment in which samples were collected and the geographical distance between the sampling sites, indicating that differentiation among the populations is due to the existence of at least evolutionary lineages. Molecular clock data suggest that this differentiation may have begun in the middle Pleistocene, approximately 396 kya. The conservation of all evolutionary lineages is important since they can present differential resistance to environmental changes, as resistance to drought and diseases.