Two species? – Limits of the species concepts in the pygmy grasshoppers of the Tetrix bipunctata complex (Orthoptera, Tetrigidae)

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Zookeys. 2021 Jun 11;1043:33-59. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.1043.68316. eCollection 2021.


Today, integrative taxonomy is often considered the gold standard when it comes to species recognition and delimitation. Using the Tetrix bipunctata complex, we here present a case where even integrative taxonomy may reach its limits. The Tetrix bipunctata complex consists of two morphs, bipunctata and kraussi, which are easily distinguished by a single character, the length of the hind wing. Both morphs are widely distributed in Europe and reported to occur over a large area in sympatry, where they occasionally may live also in syntopy. The pattern has led to disparate classifications, as on the one extreme, the morphs were treated merely as forms or subspecies of a single species, on the other, as separate species. For this paper, we re-visited the morphology by using multivariate ratio analysis (MRA) of 17 distance measurements, checked the distributional data based on verified specimens and examined micro-habitat use. We were able to confirm that hind wing length is, indeed, the only morphological difference between bipunctata and kraussi. We were also able to exclude a mere allometric scaling. The morphs are, furthermore, largely sympatrically distributed, with syntopy occurring regularly. However, a microhabitat niche difference can be observed. Ecological measurements in a shared habitat confirm that kraussi prefers a drier and hotter microhabitat, which possibly also explains the generally lower altitudinal distribution. Based on these results, we can exclude classification as subspecies, but the taxonomic classification as species remains unclear. Even with different approaches to classify the Tetrix bipunctata complex, this case is, therefore, not settled. We recommend continuing to record kraussi and bipunctata separately.

PMID:34163294 | PMC:PMC8213684 | DOI:10.3897/zookeys.1043.68316