University of Oulu

Hakala SM, Seppä P, Heikkilä M, Punttila P, Sorvari J, Helanterä H. 2018. Genetic analysis reveals Finnish Formica fennica populations do not form a separate genetic entity from F. exsecta. PeerJ 6:e6013

Genetic analysis reveals Finnish Formica fennica populations do not form a separate genetic entity from F. exsecta

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Author: Hakala, Sanja1,2; Seppä, Perttu1,2; Heikkilä, Maria3;
Organizations: 1Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, Hanko, Finland
3Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
4Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
6Ecology and genetics research unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: PeerJ, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-03-08


Coptoformica Müller, 1923 is a subgenus of Formica Linnaeus, 1758 that consists of c. a dozen species of ants that typically inhabit open grassy habitats and build small nest mounds. The most recent addition to the group is Formica fennica Seifert, 2000. The description was based on morphological characters, but the species status has not been confirmed by molecular methods. In this study, we use thirteen DNA microsatellite markers and a partial mitochondrial COI gene sequence to assess the species status of F. fennica, by comparing the genetic variation among samples identified as F. fennica and six other boreal Formica (Coptoformica) species. Most of the species studied form separate, discontinuous clusters in phylogenetic and spatial analyses with only little intraspecific genetic variation. However, both nuclear and mitochondrial markers fail to separate the species pair F. exsecta Nylander, 1846 and F. fennica despite established morphological differences. The genetic variation within the F. exsecta/fennica group is extensive, but reflects spatial rather than morphological differences. Finnish F. fennica populations studied so far should not be considered a separate species, but merely a morph of F. exsecta.

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Series: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
ISSN-E: 2167-8359
ISSN-L: 2167-8359
Volume: 6
Article number: e6013
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6013
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Our work was funded by the Academy of Finland (#140990, #135970, #251337 and #284666), Finnish Cultural Foundation, Kone Foundation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation and Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica. NFI ant data collection was funded by the Academy of Finland (#200870 and #114380). There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2018 Hakala et al. Distributed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0