Testing the performance of a fragment of the COI gene to identify western Palaearctic stag beetle species (Coleoptera, Lucanidae)

Authors Organisations
  • Karen Cox(Author)
    Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium
  • Arno Thomaes(Author)
    Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium
  • Gloria Antonini(Author)
    Sapienza University of Rome
  • Michele Zilioli(Author)
    Natural History Museum, Italy
  • Koen De Gelas(Author)
    Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium
    Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
  • Deborah Harvey(Author)
    Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Emanuela Solano(Author)
    Sapienza University of Rome
  • Paolo Audisio(Author)
    Sapienza University of Rome
  • Niall McKeown(Author)
  • Paul Shaw(Author)
  • Robert Minetti(Author)
  • Luca Bartolozzi(Author)
  • Joachim Mergeay(Author)
    Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Belgium
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-126
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2013
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The taxonomy of stag beetles (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) remains challenging, mainly due to the sexual dimorphism and the strong allometry in males. Such conjecture confounds taxonomic based conservation efforts that are urgently needed due to numerous threats to stag beetle biodiversity. Molecular tools could help solve the problem of identification of the different recognized taxa in the “Lucanus cervus complex” and in some related Palaearctic species. We investigated the potential use of a 670 bp region at the 3’ end of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (COI) for barcoding purposes (different from the standard COI barcoding region). Well resolved species and subspecies were L. tetraodon, L. cervusakbesianus, L. c. laticornis, as well as the two eastern Asian outgroup taxa L. formosanus and L. hermani. Conversely, certain taxa could not be distinguished from each other based on K2P-distances and tree topologies: L. c. fabiani / L. (P.) barbarossa, L. c. judaicus / an unknown Lucanus species, L. c. cervus / L. c. turcicus / L. c. pentaphyllus / L. (P.) macrophyllus / L. ibericus. The relative roles of phenotypic plasticity, recurrent hybridisation and incomplete lineage sorting underlying taxonomic and phylogenetic discordances are discussed


  • Lucanus spp., stag beetle, Western Palaearctic, DNA barcoding, COI