DNA barcoding of Elmidae (Insecta: Coleoptera: Polyphaga)
Elmidae are the dominant beetle family in running waters. Elmid species are widely used as bioindicators for assessing water quality, and for monitoring running water ecosystems. Yet, many species are difficult to identify morphologically, and preliminary molecular studies have shown that there is a considerable number of cryptic species in various genera of Elmidae.
In Austria, 21 elmid species have been recorded so far. During this project, numerous samples of altogether 17 species from six genera, collected in seven states of Austria, were barcoded. The DNA barcodes of Austrian Elmidae will contribute to the knowledge of potentially rare, endemic and/or endangered species of water beetles in Central Europe, being essential in establishing projects on conservation of lotic biotopes.
Furthermore, through the cooperation with CROBOL better insight will be gained into the processes of speciation of water beetles in the Dinaric Karst, which represents one of the most ecologically and hydromorphologically interesting areas of Europe. Additionally, important taxonomic questions will be solved via molecular and morphological analyses of Elmidae samples from various European countries.