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Moriarty Science Seminar: Every Family Has Its Junk Drawer: Adventures in Noctuidae (Lepidoptera) Systematics
November 8, 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Presents: Every Family Has Its Junk Drawer: Adventures in Noctuidae (Lepidoptera) Systematics
Speaker: Kevin Keegan
Noctuidae moths are one of the most successful animal lineages on the planet, being abundant in nearly all terrestrial habitats and with over 12,000 species globally—some of which are among the world’s most damaging agricultural pests. Despite their success and importance in terrestrial food webs, relationships among the overwhelming majority of noctuids remain poorly understood, hampering a broad range of scientific and applied biological endeavors. The extreme morphological diversity of these more than 12,000 species has vexed taxonomists for centuries resulting in “junk drawer” groups: moths that have no business being classified together but whose proper taxonomic placement within Noctuidae has remained a mystery. This talk will provide an overview of recent advances in our understanding of evolutionary relationships among Noctuidae that have combined new natural history and molecular data, along with adult and larval morphological data to produce the largest ever molecular phylogeny of Noctuidae. These new findings have resulted in a taxonomic sea-change for the group, including the discovery and description of new tribes and subfamilies, and have provided a roadmap for future systematic studies of Noctuidae across the world.