Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

T. Keith Philips (Director), Jarrett Johnson, Michael Stokes, and Karen Ober

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The genus Pseudanophthalmus Jeannel is a widespread and extremely diverse taxon of troglobiont beetle endemic to the karst of eastern North America, with its distribution centered in Tennessee and Kentucky. Despite lying near the heart of this region, the pubescens species-group was thought to contain many undescribed species. In this study, the validities of several of the late Dr. Thomas Barr’s unpublished putative new species in the pubescens-group were tested both morphologically and molecularly. Body measurements (length and width for head, thorax, and abdomen), as well as male genital morphology were compared to see if they reflected theorized species limits.. Genes (COI and 28S) were used to infer parsimony and Bayesian phylogenies to see if clades supported species hypotheses. Seven taxa, found valid, are formally described as full species for the first time, and are presented with COI barcodes. This more than doubles the pubescens-group, bringing it from six full species to 13. Of the described taxa, at least five are suspected to require revision. Additionally, four new species were discovered molecularly, but will require further collecting, morphological examination, and characterization before description. It is now apparent that morphology in general should not be relied upon solely when delineating Pseudanophthalmus species.


Biodiversity | Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Entomology | Genetics and Genomics