Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Byiringiro, I. 2022. Molecular, Environmental DNA and Phylogenetic Analysis of the Endangered Species of Nebraska (Salt Creek Tiger Beetle) Ellipsoptera Nevadica Lincolniana. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Copyrights Innocent Byiringiro 2022.


Salt Creek tiger beetle (SCTB) is an ecologically important tiger beetle species. It is found in the Ellipsoptera genus. There are 13 species in the genus Ellipsoptera genus and 9 subspecies. Ellipsoptera nevadica lincolniana (Salt Creek tiger beetle) is a subspecies in the nevadica species. Other Ellipsoptera nevadica subspecies are knausii nevadica, olmosa, and citata. SCTB was listed as a federally endangered subspecies on November 7, 2005. It is an extremely niche-specific, spends most of its life as a larva, most often observed as an adult. The most common habitats for SCTB are barren salt flats and saline stream edges of the saline wetlands. It has one of the most restricted ranges of any insect in the United States. Known metapopulations include Little Salt Creek Arbor Lake, Little Salt Creek Roper, Upper Little Salt Creek-north, Upper Little Salt Creek-south, Jack Sinn WMA, and Oak Creek. Only three metapopulations still exist. On May 6, 2014, a final rule designated 449 hectares for SCTB recovery was published. The purpose of this study is to use DNA to infer, the evolutionary relationship between Ellipsoptera nevadica lincolniana with other species and subspecies in the genus Ellipsoptera. a second objective is to evaluate the genetics of wild SCTB and those maintained in culture. Originally, the Ellipsoptera nevadica lincolniana was described as a separate species. But more recently, based on geographical and morphological evidence, it was reclassified as a subspecies in the Ellipsoptera nevadica species. It is believed that E. nevadica lincolniana has been geographically isolated from other populations since either the Kansan glaciation or pre-Illinoian glacial stage. Further studies proved that the E. nevadica lincolniana is a Highly niche-specific species compared to the other subspecies in the nevadica species. Even though it is geographically and morphologically closely related to the E. nevadica knausii, the two subspecies have significant ecological and behavioral differences. This study provides additional comparative DNA sequence information of Ellipsoptera species that may aid in their monitoring and identification. The study also examines the possibility of environmental DNA environmental DNA approach for the monitoring of the salt creek tiger beetles. The study results demonstrate the potential of the use of eDNA in Salt Creek tiger beetles' identification. It is believed that if the eDNA is embraced will improve the conservation strategies. eDNA is a nondestructive way to study beetle. If embraced it would reduce the need of tissue or larvae in studies and monitoring of tiger beetle species.