Automated taxonomic procedures applied to a revision of the Geomydoecus lice from pocket gophers of the Thomomys bottae-umbrinus complex

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1980
Authors:R. A. Hellenthal, Price R. D.
Journal:Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science
Pagination:204 - 205
Date Published:1980

One of the greatest challenges in mammalian systematics is the Thomomys bottae-umbrinus complex, with its approximately 225 described subspecies. As part of a taxonomic investigation of the lice from these gophers we have accumulated and mounted over 31,000 adult lice from 2,000 hosts representing over 1,000 localities, and have quantified over 300,000 character observations from more than 11,000 of these lice. These character observations combined with their host and locality information form a computerized data base which is maintained at the University of Minnesota. Because of the quantity and complexity of these data we have automated our data handling and analysis and some portions of the taxonomic decision making process. We have developed an integrated group of computer p r og rams called the BUG system which is used for the retrieval and analysis of stored louse data. This system provides for the definition of tentative taxonomic louse groups, the extraction of data for lice within these groups, and the analysis or comparison of these data within a group or between groups. Group definitions may be based on preliminary louse identification, host identification, host locality specific host, or specific louse, or any combination of these criteria. The kinds of analyses built into the system include general data summarization, character correlations, analysis of variance, principal components analysis, and agglomerative clustering. The system also has some graphics capabilities,including character distribution graphs, principal components scattergrams, and host geographic distribution maps. It can also select and format- louse data for use with general statistical analysis computer program packages such as the BMD-Biomedical Computer Programs. The system is used to evaluate character homogeneity within groups of lice, make comparisons between groups and identify taxonomically useful characters for descriptions. Criteria for taxonomic groupings were developed from a comprehensive study of louse variation using a 5-level nested analysis of variance model. We have delineated 25 new louse taxa so far during this study and it is likely that more will be found.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith