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Revisiting neotropical Zethus Fabricius, 1804 (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Eumeninae): integrating old and new datasets for phylogeny and exploring taxonomy

Grant number: 21/00766-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2021
Effective date (End): June 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal researcher:Eduardo Andrade Botelho de Almeida
Grantee:Rogério Botion Lopes
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:19/09215-6 - Countering the taxonomic impediment of aculeate wasps: micro- and macroregional visions of the neotropical fauna, AP.BTA.TEM

Abstract

Vespidae is a hymenopteran family whose most popular representatives are Polistines, known as paper wasps, insects that present social behavior. However, the great majority of species lies in Eumeninae, a group typically of solitary wasps, with few groups presenting pre-social behavior. Among these groups are a few representatives of Zethini, which is only represented in Brazil by Zethus, the most diverse genus in the family. As a matter of fact, in the elaboration of theories referring to the evolution of sociality, Zethus has been used as a intermediary representative of the transition from solitory to social behavior. This hypothesis was strengthened after analyses placed Zethini closer to Polistinae and Vespinae, eusocial taxa. In spite its great diversity, the genus shows constant growth, with several recent species descriptions, besides additions to distributional records. Zethus has a troubled past regarding subgeneric classification, but recently, robust lineages that can correspond to subgenera were identified, raising the number of subgenera from four to nine. However, there is low support for the relationships between these lineages. Thus, in order to break the latency in the group's taxonomy, collecting and visiting collections are needed to search for unknown species as well as specimens representing new records and at the same time, carry an analysis that will properly stablish subgeneric relationships of Zethus. It is suggested that this deed may be carried by adding newly obtained characters to available data in the literature, whether derived from other phylogenetic analyses or from purely descriptive studies. (AU)

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