Journal of Undergraduate Research


evolutionary relationships, Anax dragonflies, migration


Life Sciences




Anax dragonflies are found worldwide, with many species migrating across continents. One species of Anax, A. junius, makes annual migrations travelling thousands of miles each fall from Canada to Mexico (May 2013). Researchers from all over the world use Anax to learn about vision, insect musculature and insect migration. For example, A. junius is a favorite of many research projects in North America (Bybee et al. 2012), while A. imperator is often used by European collaborators (Sharkey et al. 2015), and A. parthenope by Asian collaborators (Futahashi et al. 2015). However, despite widespread interest in Anax, relationships among species remain murky. Specifically, the relationship between Anax and Hemianax is unclear. They were previously considered the sister to each other, but recently some have suggested collapsing the two groups to reduce paraphyly (Peters 2000; Schorr et al. 2007). It is still unclear if they should be combined or left as sister to each other, and some continue to distinguish the two groups as separate (Von Ellenrieder 2002). Because Anax is a highly mobile group, very few geographic structures limit populations. Therefore, it is interesting to investigate what genetic barriers or migratory events divided populations enough to limit gene flow and promote speciation. This can be then applied to other groups to better understand how geographic distribution relates to evolutionary relationships. In this study, we compared four genes from 22 species to answer these questions as well as clarify general evolutionary relationships between species in Anax.

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