|Year of Publication:||2002|
|Academic Department:||Systematic Zoology, Evolutionary Biology Center|
|Number of Pages:||51|
As a preparation for proper phylogenetic analysis of groups within the coprophagous clade of Scarabaeidae, an overview is presented of all the proposed suprageneric taxa in Aphodiinae. The current knowledge of the affiliations of each group is discussed based on available information on their morphology, biology, biogeography and paleontology, as well as their classification history. With this as a background an attempt is made to estimate the validity of each taxon from a cladistic perspective, suggest possibilities and point out the most important questions for further research in clarifying the phylogeny of the group. The introductory part A) is not a scientific paper but an introduction into the subject intended for the seminar along with a polemic against a fraction of the presently most active workers in the field: Dellacasa, Bordat and Dellacasa. The main part B) is the discussion of all proposed suprageneric taxa in the subfamily from a cladistic viewpoint. The current classification is found to be quite messy and unfortunately a large part of the many recent attempts to revise higher-level classification within the group do not seem to be improvements from a phylogenetic viewpoint. Most recently proposed tribes (as well as Aulonocemini and Termitotrogini, sometimes regarded as distinct subfamilies) seem to be nested within larger tribes; the synonymisation of Didactyliini and Proctophanini does not seem appropriate, nor does the subtribal division of Psammodiini (though if it is kept the name Pleurophorina Mulsant, 1842 will have to replace Rhyssemina Pittino & Mariani, 1986) and the two large tribes Eupariini and Psammodiini will become monophyletic only if they are merged; while Aegialiini (often regarded as a distinct subfamily) seems paraphyletic. The classification of the termitophilous groups remains a major issue to be solved, as does the subdivision of Eupariini-Psammodiini and the question of genera/subgenera within the reliably monophyletic Aphodiini. In addition to this C) a phylogenetic analysis is carried out from an outer morphological character set with 40 characters and 44 exemplar taxa. The consensus tree of the few shortest trees attained has a high degree of resolution, but since the character distribution is very homoplastic the result is very poorly supported, and could best serve as a working hypothesis, giving some support for some of the traditional groups and some of the results in the cladistic reinterpretation but not for others.