Museum, University of Nebraska State


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Jameson, M.L. 1997. Phylogenetic Analysis of the Subtribe Rutelina and Revision of the Rutela Generic Groups (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Rutelinae: Rutelini), Bulletin of the University of Nebraska State Museum, Volume 14. 184pp.


Copyright © by the University of Nebraska State Museum, 1997


This work provides a comprehensive review of the phylogeny and classification of the subtribe Rutelina and a revision of the genus Rutela (Rutelina). Because of the lack of a thorough study of all taxa in the subtribe and because of differing philosophies regarding categorical levels, the classification of the subtribe is currently unstable. Phylogenetic analyses of 32 representative genera or subgenera in the tribe Rutelini were conducted as a means of: (1) resolving classification conflicts within the subtribe Rutelina, (2) identifying monophyletic groups within the subtribe, and (3) identifying monophyletic lineages within the tribe Rutelini. Analyses were conducted using 128 morphological characters and 72 taxa. Exemplars of all species of Rutelina were used as taxonomic ingroups. Outgroups included exemplars from the tribes Anomalini, Spodochlamyini, Adoretini (all Rutelinae), Dynastinae, and Melolonthinae. A priori decisions concerning taxonomic groupings were avoided by treating all taxa as terminal taxa. Results of the analysis demonstrated that: (1) the subtribe Rutelina is polyphyletic, (2) the genus Rutela is paraphyletic and is composed of four monophyletic groups, and 3) several subtribes in the tribe Rutelini are non-monophyletic. Based on the results of the phylogenetic analyses, classification changes in the tribe Rutelini are proposed.

Four monophyletic groups within the genus Rutela were identified as a result of the phylogenetic analyses. Each of these is treated as a distinct genus: (1) Rutela sensu Latreille, (2) Microrutela F. Bates (new status), (3) Sphaerorutela, new genus, and (4) Plesiorutela, new genus. Each of these taxa is revised. The genus Rutela includes 17 species and two subspecies. The type species of the genus is Rutela lineola ( L.). Three new species are described: Rutela histrioparilis from Colombia and Peru, Rutela cryptica from Panama, and Rutela howdeni from Brazil and Venezuela. Two taxa were reduced to subspecific status: Rutela rufipennis Ohaus (now Rutela sanguinolenta rufipennis) and Rutela antiqua Ohaus (now Rutela striata antiqua). Rutela striata martinicensis Chalumeau and Gruner is considered a synonym of Rotela striata antiqua Ohaus.

The genus Sphaerorotela is established for four species previously placed in the genus Rutela: Sphaerorutela lauta ( Perty), Sphaerorutela viridicuprea ( Ohaus), Sphaerorutela coeruleohumeralis (Ohaus), and Sphaerorutela sumptuosa (Ohaus). The type species for the genus is Sphaerorutela lauta (Petty). Rutela coerulea atrohumeralis Ohaus and Rutela coerulea rubripennis Ohaus are new synonyms of Sphaerorutela coeruleohumeralis (Ohaus). The following names are new synonyms of Sphaerorutela lauta (Perty): Rutela coerulea sphaerica (Burm.), Rutela coerulea coeruleooxydata Ohaus, Rutela coerulea coeruleorofipes Ohaus, and Rutela coerulea coeroleovirens Ohaus. Rutela martinsi Martínez and Martínez is a new synonym of Sphaerorutela sumptuosa (Ohaus). The following names are new synonyms of Sphaerorutela viridicuprea (Ohaus): Rutela coerulea atra Ohaus, Rutela coerulea cruenta Ohaus, Rutela coerulea ephippiata Ohaus, Rutela coerulea flavovittata Ohaus, Rutela coerulea phalerata Ohaus, and Rutela coerulea stapiata Ohaus.

The genus Microrutela F. Bates is resurrected, and the type species is Microrutela coerulea (Perty). The definition of genus sensu auctorum was found to be erroneous based on the type species of the genus. The genus is redefined and includes seven species, three of which are new: Microrutela batesi from the Amazon region of Brazil; Microrutela vidua from Costa Rica and Colombia, and; Microrutela ucalayiensis from the Amazon region of Peru and Brazil.

The new genus Plesiorutala is proposed to accommodate a single species, Rutela specularis H. Bates. Lack of shared, derived characters and several autapomorphic characters in Plesiorutela specularis preclude placement in any other genus.

The larva of Rutela dorcyi is described and compared with the only known larva of Rutela, Rutela formosa. The larva of Microrutela viridiaurata is described and compared with larvae in the genus Rutela. I provide an updated key to the American genera of Rutelini.

In summary, a new classification is proposed for the Rutela generic group that includes the genera Rutela, Sphaerorutela, Microrutela, Plesiorutela, Macraspis, Calomacraspis, and Cnemida. Rutela, Sphaerorutela, Microrutela, and Plesiorutela include a total of 29 species and subspecies that are distributed from southern Georgia and Florida, USA., the West Indies, and southeast Mexico to Argentina.

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