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

Karen Cox, Arno Thomaes, Gloria Antonini, Michele Zilioli, Koen De Gelas, Deborah Harvey, Emanuela Solano, Paolo Audisio, Niall McKeown, Paul Shaw, Robert Minetti, Luca Bartolozzi, Joachim Mergeay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-126
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2013


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


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing the performance of a fragment of the COI gene to identify western Palaearctic stag beetle species (Coleoptera, Lucanidae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this