Towards a supertree of Arthropoda: a species-level supertree of the spiny, slipper and coral lobsters (Decapoda: Achelata)

Katie E. Davis, Thomas W. Hesketh, Cyrille Delmer, Matthew A. Wills

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While supertrees have been built for many vertebrate groups (notably birds, mammals and dinosaurs), invertebrates have attracted relatively little attention. The paucity of supertrees of arthropods is particularly surprising given their economic and ecological importance, as well as their overwhelming contribution to biodiversity. The absence of comprehensive archives of machine-readable source trees, coupled with the need for software implementing repeatable protocols for managing them, has undoubtedly impeded progress. Here we present a supertree of Achelata (spiny, slipper and coral lobsters) as a proof of concept, constructed using new supertree specific software (the Supertree Toolkit; STK) and following a published protocol. We also introduce a new resource for archiving and managing published source trees. Our supertree of Achelata is synthesised from morphological and molecular source trees, and represents the most complete species-level tree of the group to date. Our findings are consistent with recent taxonomic treatments, confirming the validity of just two families: Palinuridae and Scyllaridae; Synaxidae were resolved within Palinuridae. Monophyletic Silentes and Stridentes lineages are recovered within Palinuridae, and all sub-families within Scyllaridae are found to be monophyletic with the exception of Ibacinae. We demonstrate the feasibility of building larger supertrees of arthropods, with the ultimate objective of building a complete species-level phylogeny for the entire phylum using a divide and conquer strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0140110
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2015


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