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Sphex – a digger wasp genus re-assessed

Integrative approaches for comparable results

In this project, the digger wasp genus Sphex undergoes comprehensive taxonomic review. Phylogenetic analysis of the species is carried out at the same time. Both approaches make use of morphological as well as molecular data, most of which come from museum specimens from various international collections. The objective is to generate identification charts and phylogenetic trees at a regional and general level, as well as revised descriptions of all species studied. With the help of an online database, their physical and anatomical characteristics are compared to other insects. The descriptions are then written, following a fixed pattern and can be automatically processed. Genetic data such as barcode sequences will be generated and made publicly accessible.

Where do the wasps studied come from?

The geographical focus of the project is mainly on Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, as studies in these regions have so far been very patchy indeed. Other continents will only be included for complementary aspects and confirmation of existing results.

The objective

The project in hand will be a major contribution to the issue of subdividing the Sphex genus. So far, hardly any reliable knowledge is available at a taxonomic or phylogenetic level. This project will allow scientists to verify whether species groups suggested on the basis of earlier studies are actually related. Making sequence data of individual species as well as standardised descriptions available will give a wide range of researchers access to results of our work.