Phylogenetic revision of the genus Cherokia (Chamberlin, 1949) (Polydesmida: Xystodesmidae)

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Virginia Tech


The family Xystodesmidae (Polydesmida) includes 521 species with a center of diversity concentrated in the Appalachian Mountains. Within this family, the genus Cherokia, a monotypic taxon with the type species Cherokia georgiana, is divided into three subspecies. The last revision of this genus was made by Richard Hoffman in 1960. Here, I used morphological and molecular data sets to review the genus, and evaluate whether it is a monophyletic group. I included material from literature records and three natural history collections. Newly collected samples were obtained through a citizen science project. Morphological characters such as the shape of the paranota, body size, and coloration were evaluated. Seven gene loci were used to estimate a molecular phylogeny of the genus, and a species delimitation analysis was used to evaluate the status of the subspecies. The geographical range of Cherokia was expanded to include a newly reported state (Virginia) and ca. 160 new localities compared to the previously known range. Morphological characters such as the shape of the paranota and body size that were historically used to establish subspecies, showed a direct relation with geographical distribution and elevation (clinal variation), but not with the phylogeny. Coloration was variable and did not accord with geography or phylogeny. The phylogeny recovered a monophyletic lineage, and the species delimitation test supports a single species. The molecular and morphological evidence showed that Cherokia is a monotypic genus with the sole species Cherokia georgiana being geographically widespread and highly variable in its morphology



Cherokia, phylogenetics, subspecies, morphology