Exploring Species Diversity and Molecular Evolution of Arachnida through DNA Barcodes
This thesis investigates species diversity and patterns of molecular evolution in Arachnida through DNA barcoding. The first chapter assesses mite species richness through comprehensive sampling at a subarctic location in Canada. Barcode analysis of 6279 specimens revealed nearly 900 presumptive species with high rates of turnover between major habitat types, demonstrating the utility of DNA barcoding for biodiversity surveys of understudied taxa. The second chapter explores nucleotide composition, indel occurrence, and rates of amino acid evolution in Arachnida. The results suggest a significant shift in nucleotide composition in the arachnid subclasses of Pulmonata (GC = 37.0%) and Apulmonata (GC = 34.2%). Indels were detected in five apulmonate orders, with deletions being much more common than insertions. Finally, rates of amino acid evolution were detected among the orders, and were negatively correlated with generation length, suggesting that generation time is a significant contributor to variation in molecular rates of evolution in arachnids.