Parasitoid wasps are ecologically and economically important as biological control agents. However, little is known about the diversity, distribution and biology of most hymenopteran parasitoids due to their small size, morphological conservatism, and complex life styles. The focus of my PhD research was to investigate the evolution and speciation of euphorine braconid wasps, using a combination of multilocus phylogenetics and population genomic techniques combined with traditional taxonomy. The three data chapters of my dissertation are divided into different taxonomic ranks of euphorine braconids, focusing on genera, species, and populations. For chapter 2, I built a multilocus phylogeny of the tribe Euphorini with extensive taxa sampling around the globe. I confirmed the monophyly of Peristenus and Leiophron, two important biological control agents, and provided updated generic concepts and identification resources to aid applied researchers. In Chapters 3 and 4, I focused on cryptic species within the Peristenus pallipes complex in North America. I used an integrative taxonomic approach to resolve the taxonomic confusion within the Nearctic Peristenus pallipes complex (Chapter 3), then I used ddRADSeq to examine their evolutionary relationships with their Lygus hosts (Chapter 4). My dissertation provided a comprehensive analysis of Peristenus at multiple taxonomic ranks using phylogenetics and population genomics, providing insights into their evolutionary history that can be extrapolated into other groups of parasitoid wasps. The results from these studies also advanced our understanding of this group of animals of theoretical, economical, and conservation importance.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Conservation Biology; Integrative Biology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Zhang, Yuanmeng, "The Evolution of Peristenus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae): Taxonomy, Phylogenetics and Ecological Speciation" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5967.